BSO Corruption Case Ends With Slap on the Wrist, Despite Continued Danger at the Port

Categories: Politics
oil tank fire.jpg
Firefighters at Port Everglades need a new hose and pump system to fight potential oil tank fires like this one, but the purchasing of the system has been plagued with problems.
If you're like most people and you don't watch a lot of local TV news, then you probably missed Carmel Cafiero's fine report on Channel 7 last week about a corruption investigation into BSO's fire rescue division. And it's a shame that most of us didn't watch this report, because there ought to be outcry over a case that has largely been swept under the carpet.

Sure, you say, that's common for Broward Town, but in this case, the corruption could lead to untold deaths, the loss of billions of dollars in oil reserves, and generally threaten public safety -- and that's not TV new-style overstating.

Cafiero got three minutes and 24 seconds for her report -- generous in her line of work -- but the story deserves a more in-depth look into the sordid accusations. The internal affairs report (click here for the final version) in question investigated Battalion Chief Kelli Allen's role in helping to select a company to supply a $1.2 million hose and pump system for Port Everglades. Allen had a relationship -- both professionally and personally -- with the company, and that may create conflict of interests that violate both BSO rules and perhaps the law.

There's also allegations in the report that someone, perhaps Allen, sabotaged samples sent from a competing company that initially won the bid, all while making sexual innuendos via email to her boss.

Sheriff Al Lamberti spoke with outrage to Channel 7: "From a command staff person, I expect more. You have to govern yourself appropriately."

So what was Allen's punishment for such outrageous infractions? A three-day  suspension.

The results have outraged some BSO fire rescue employees who have been speaking out about the deal for years. One former department employee who recently retired told the Pulp: "What is outrageous here is that we have politicians in Broward County going to jail for much less than what she did."

The investigation began December 22, 2009, when Port of Everglades Director Phillip Allen filed a complaint with BSO's Division of Internal Affairs. Allen claimed Kelli Allen (no relation to the director) had hidden her relationship with the company supplying the hose and pumps and had unfairly influenced the process to assure the company won the bid.

Internal affairs investigators went back through emails and conducted interviews with those involved in the pump and hose purchase, which began in 2006. Initially, another company, Williams Fire and Control had won the contract by bidding $250,000 less than anyone else. Williams sent BSO a sample of the hose it intended to supply as part of the contract, but Allen reported that when it arrived it wasn't the right kind.

Chauncey Naylor, executive vice president for Williams, told BSO investigators that he shipped the right hose to Allen but that it was swapped out for the wrong one so that BSO could cancel his contract.

And BSO did cancel the deal. When it came time to award the contract to another company, Allen put her support behind Kidde Fire Fighting.

That should come as no surprise considering her connection with Kidde. Two or three times a year, the company flies her to Texas A&M where she teaches classes on behalf of the company. They pay her expenses for the trips, although she denied claims made to investigators that she's also paid for her time.

Investigators discovered that Allen had failed to disclose her relationship and compensation from Kidde to BSO, as required by regulations. When BSO fire rescue employees complained about her connection with the company, her superiors asked her to fill out a form explaining her work. But she didn't mention Kidde on the form, claiming instead that she worked for Texas A&M.

There was more that she was hiding about her relationship with Kidde. Investigators discovered that she was also having a relationship with Joseph Bateman, the son of a Kidde official. They discovered emails Allen sent to Bateman, including one on March 18, 2008, that accused Bateman of finding a new girl. The email warned: "Just remember, you were mine First!!! That gives me certain unalienable rights, starting with knowing how the heck you're doing.... So, if you are otherwise occupied, kick the bitch out of bed and call me!!! Love you, Kelli."

Meanwhile, Allen was also trading emails with her boss, Assistant Chief Tim Keefe, making the same kind of sexual innuendo. While she was out of town, Allen sent Keefe an email bragging: "Staying at Crowne Suites (king size, on the water, by myself, wink, wink.)" Investigators discovered, perhaps to Keefe's dismay, that Allen had sent the identical line to another man during her trip.

All of these unsavory connections didn't go ignored. Assistant Chief Raymond Bennett had been complaining about Allen's connections with Kidde for "some time" when he wrote an email in February 2008 to the chiefs of the fire division. "As I have repeatedly stated," Bennett wrote, "I believe that the vendor/employee relationship in this case could be construed to present a conflict of interest."

On August 5, 2010, internal affairs investigators presented the case to the Special Prosecution and Public Corruption Unit at the Broward State Attorney's Office. The office has long been chided for going soft on corruption cases, but lately State Attorney Michael Satz seemed hell bent on bringing prosecutions against politicians. Former School Board member Beverly Gallagher pleaded guilty in March to accepting $12,500 in bribes, pennies on the dollar compared to the million-dollar Kidde hose contract at the port.

But Satz's office declined to take the case and issued a memo explaining why. The memo said there is "nothing supportive" to show that Allen "manipulated the bid process" or that she was paid by Kidde. That disputes claims from longtime BSO employees who had stepped up and told their bosses that Allen was working for Kidde and working to get the company the port bid.

The memo also claims that Allen "did not keep her relationship a secret" -- something that's flat-out wrong. In the document she supplied to the BSO, she claimed she was "an adjunct instructor for Texas A&M," which isn't true, and she never mentioned that she was actually going to Texas twice a year for Kidde.

But all of these sordid tales about conflicts of interest and sexual innuendo are really miniscule compared to the real problem: The hose and pump system provided by Kidde don't work. The system is supposed to allow firefighters to spray foam on fires from as much as a mile away. The pumps are supposed to provide 12,000 pounds of pressure from a hose that's a foot wide. The system failed on two tests, with the foam system quitting and pumps breaking. During one test, a piece of equipment flew off an nearly injured a firefighter. Tests since then have worked better, but the pumps still aren't churning out the amount of money they were supposed to provide.

Bennett, who had complained about Allen's involvement with Kiddie, tried to call the company to report the problems. The company wouldn't speak with him and insisted instead that all information go through Allen.

In November, internal affairs investigators met with Allen. She claimed her role in the bid process was that she "brought Kidde to the attention of the department" and suggested to fellow chiefs that "this is what we need." She said she never disclosed her relationship with the company because they had never paid her, although investigators didn't follow up with her IRS records to confirm.

Internal affairs submitted its final, 36-page report in January. On April 29, Fire Chief Neal de Jesus signed off on a three-day suspension for Allen. Keefe, meanwhile, received a demotion for receiving the sexually charged email from Allen.

Allen and Chief de Jesus haven't returned phone calls about the investigation. BSO spokesman Jim Leljedal said that the report speaks for itself and that the department wouldn't respond to why the punishment was so light. "There's a process," Leljedal said, "and we've been through the process." He said Lamberti was unlikely to speak about the issue again.

To Channel 7, Lamberti trumpeted the outcome of the case: "A suspension is significant, and a demotion is even more significant."

What's probably the most significant development here is that we seem to be back to the old days of Broward County, where corruption cases end with a suspension and an unpaid day off -- and not handcuffs.


Follow The Pulp on Facebook and on Twitter: @ThePulpBPB. Follow Eric Barton on Twitter: @ericbarton.
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24 comments
Creeves2
Creeves2

How could she just get a three day suspension and the guy got demoted for just RECEIVING her lewd email?  She must be in the union.

Hellvis
Hellvis

Finally!   an article longer than 3 paragraphs. Good job Eric. 

Tony
Tony

The culture of corruption runs so deep in Broward County it will be many years before it resembles a clean government.  

Guest
Guest

What's the explanation on why this corrupt individual still has her job?Could be she knows the secrets? How frustrating to read a story like this

Steve-O
Steve-O

The first mistake people make is to assume our Police and Fire Departments give one fuck about public safety.  Their primary concern is enriching themselves and their fat bloated pensions.  If they can get a little poontang on the side, all the better. Since September 11th, 2001, there has been around-the-clock BSO stationed at each entrance to the Port, no doubt accruing massive amounts of overtime pay.  Its been 10 years and they haven't found a better and cheaper way to protect the Port? 

RayboyUSMC
RayboyUSMC

 Hey, Bob, I can't find your direct contact so here's my question under this blog. When are you going to do something on the new insurance regulations that the Business Whore Scott just signed along with his pimping Republican Pandering Prostitutes? Now, if my home is damaged, but not destroyed, I have to pay for the repair up front and then get reimbursed?  What the hell is this?  Are the contractors going to give me credit or will I have to get a loan or lose my home? Scott is a dikhead pure and simple.  He stole from US when he was in charge of HCA.  No one can start a company and then not know that 30% of the profit is fraudelent.  If he didn't know, why did he have to take the 5th 75 times? I want to thank all you republican voters who put this criminal in charge of our state.  When you lose your home, maybe you might realize he is what you deserve. 

Jefferson954
Jefferson954

It is unfortunate that the Sheriff's office operates its entire procurement process in a manner that is not transparent or equitable for vendors.  This department needs reform to its process.  BSO has the authority to give their procurements to whomever they choose, without any public oversight.

Sheriff Lamdirti
Sheriff Lamdirti

To all you bloggers:You know nothing about the sheriffs' department and it's inner workings.  In order to build commaradrie and loyalty among the ranks BSO deputies are encouraged to engage in sex with one another.  In fact I have attended many swinger parties.  When the County Human Rights commission included sexual orientation in its charter the BSO  immediately began blowing each other.  Let me tell you right now there is sucking and fucking going on all over headquarters and moral couldn't be better. 

Sheriff Lamdirti
Sheriff Lamdirti

 Memo to Lieutenants;Allen gives great head but please advise all deputies to refrain from getting head while she is on suspension.

Christy
Christy

 Was he suspended with pay?.......

Guest
Guest

Keeping this devious corrupt employee,with just a 3 day suspension, is outrageous and unbelievable! BSO is a Joke is Right. So many people are  terminated for a lot less of an infraction and denied unemployment compansation. In my opinion what she has done is criminal. 

Neil
Neil

Check the payroll records.....word is it is a ONE day suspension.  The guy got demoted for RECEIVING an email.  Wow... that is a strict workplace regulation.

Ricky
Ricky

Lamberti is incapable of providing service with integrity.  He should be removed from office.  Just  look at who he has given sweet high ranking positions to...All the fire department admin is from Dania.  Wow...what a surprise he bribed them for their support to be taken over.  BSO is now a joke.  Public corruption - two deputies that have never been detectives and a retired civilian?  Internal affairs - Bags Benjamin, need we say more?  Or by the way, how is that investigation going?    Al, resign now and save yourself some embarrassment.

Guest
Guest

Ch 10 hired Bob Norman for what?  To shut him up?  No blog no nothing on Ch 10 from Bob Norman.  Did he say he was taking a vacation? 

The Pulp Blog
The Pulp Blog

The documents were a bit unclear on how long the suspension would last. The final document claimed three days, but the form that Allen signed had the three-day suspension crossed out and one day written in. Leljedal said yesterday that "he believed" the suspension was three days and that he'd check into it and get back to me. 

Lou
Lou

 When is DeJesus announcing he is running for corrupt sheriff?

Pulp
Pulp

The original Pulp will return next week on the WPLG-Local 10 website. Weird seeing other people refer to themselves as Pulp and really crazy to see them use the phrase "Broward Town," even though it is my friend Eric. It's an eerie feeling, like having someone crawl into my skin. 

Christy
Christy

 Mu understanding is that Pulp will start on Channel 10 May 24th and he was due to go to Dallas for some training.  You haven't seen or read  the last of Pulp.  He'll be around.

Guest
Guest

Looking forward to following you to  WPLG-Local 10 website.I agree with Goldilocks.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

New Times *should* retire the name Pulp ... but it will not happen. WE know who the real Pulp is, and where the *there* is, there.

Looking forward to your return! Good luck in the interim. 

Guest
Guest

I guess Bob couldn't take the Pulp name with him. From now on..His blog will be called Bob Norman's Blog(according to the WPLG announcement) 

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