FORT LAUDERDALE — The Broward Sheriff’s Office has suspended a gay community service aide whose legal battles with the department escalated when he learned he was recorded using profanity and insults toward deputies who pulled him over for speeding on a scooter.
Listen to the Recording
As the South Florida Times first reported last week, Anthony Vincent was off duty while riding a personal scooter near his home in Southwest Ranches on Feb. 15. Deputy Robert Aspuru and Corporal Jose Saud, who were conducting a traffic operation, flagged him for speeding.
Aspuru and Saud had ticketed Vincent in the past but a judge dismissed those citations and Vincent alleged he was being harassed. When Vincent was stopped this time, Aspuru turned on his cell phone’s voice recorder.
Vincent is heard on the recording expressing fear for his life after being stopped, disputing that he was speeding, and using profanity and insults toward the deputies. He said he was being harassed
because of his sexual orientation and asked the deputies not to approach him until his sergeant arrived. Aspuru then contacted his own commander, who also came to the scene.
Vincent was issued a criminal citation for speeding, and then he and his sergeant left the scene. The deputies filed complaints with Internal Affairs and Aspuru submitted his recording as proof of Vincent’s conduct. In keeping with BSO policy, Vincent was provided copies of the evidence materials, including the audio recording, after the investigative phase of the Internal Affairs process was completed.
Vincent declined comment as to why he was suspended and his attorney, Louis Fishman, did not return calls. Jim Leljedal, BSO’s director of media relations, confirmed the suspension but did not provide details. According to several sources, however, it involves Vincent’s providing a copy of the recording to officials in Southwest Ranches.
“He lives in my district and came to me with some concerns. I arranged for him to meet with
the (town) administrator,” said Southwest Ranches Vice-Mayor Doug McKay. “I arranged the meeting and turned it (the audio) over to him.”
BSO policy restricts the release of materials related to any ongoing investigations. McKay questions that policy, saying if the recording was confidential it would not have been provided to Vincent.
BSO provides law enforcement and other services to the town.
Exactly what concerns Vincent communicated to the town officials is not clear. McKay said the meeting took place last weekend and it was his understanding that Town Administrator Andy Berns was evaluating the issues and would submit his findings.
Vincent is now under investigation for allegedly violating BSO policies related to Internal Affairs
investigations and insubordination. The investigative portion of the previous case has been completed and it will now proceed to a disciplinary committee.
Aspuru’s recorder continued running after Vincent and his sergeant left the scene of the traffic stop. Aspuru, Saud and their commander, Wallace Haywood, are heard discussing the incident.
Haywood is heard giving them instructions about how to write their complaints against Vincent and he is also heard using profanity and other insulting terms to describe Vincent.
Haywood is also captured making plans to contact the judge in the traffic case, apparently to prevent Vincent from beating the ticket in court.
Haywood and the deputies did file complaints against Vincent but it is unclear whether Haywood made any effort to contact the judge who heard the traffic case.
According to records on file with the Broward Clerk of the Courts, the case was heard by Magistrate Maria Lynn Varsallone. Vincent’s attorney presented documentation showing his scooter was incapable of traveling at 56 miles per hour as cited in the case and he requested a trial.
Varsallone did not return calls from the South Florida Times. Records show she dismissed the ticket after it was pointed out that deputies issued Vincent a criminal citation, and magistrates can only preside over non-criminal traffic infractions.
Photo: Anthony Vincent