New Subpoenas Stir Florida Probes

Federal labor racketeering investigators are looking into the possible misuse of $210 million worth of employee insurance contracts in the Broward Co. (Fla.) School Dist. After 30 months of apparent dormancy, the investigation is alive again with grand jury subpoenas delivered Feb. 12. The subpoenas requested minutes of the Superintendent’s Insurance Committee. A key member of that committee is Broward Teachers Union president Tony Gentile. [Sun-Sentinel 2/17/99]

Alternatively, the subpoenas may be targeting Fed. of Public Employees boss Walter “Buster” J. Browne. Brown heads a union the represents many non-teacher School Board employees and he is a member of the Insurance Committee. The union boss is also the ex-Port Everglades Commission chairman. Investigators have been looking into payment to Browne since Jan. 1992 from local shipping firms and two other unions: Dania Beach Am. Maritime Officers and Teamsters Local 769. Further, they’re interested in Browne’s influence on the Insurance Committee. Browne has a corrupt history. In 1996, he pled guilty to mail-tampering to rig a union election. He just finished two years probation.

One final twist, the U.S. Dep’t of Justice in Washington is heading the investigation because the U.S. Attorney for the So. Dist. of Fla., Thomas Scott, was Browne’s defense attorney in the boss’ mail-tampering case. [Broward Daily Business Review 2/23/99]