FORT LAUDERDALE — Contrary to assertions made by the Broward Sheriff’s Office, a document containing false information was submitted so Sheriff Al Lamberti’s teenage son could gain access to the Super Bowl played at Sun Life Stadium last year.
The “Super Bowl XLIV Credentials Request Form for Law Enforcement,” uncovered in a South Florida Times investigation, lists Nick Lamberti as the applicant, with his father the sheriff as his supervisor and BSO Captain Robert Schnakenberg as the supervisor signing off on the application.
The application was for “AFC Team Security During Pre-Event & Game Day.”
The spaces for job title and date of birth for the applicant were left blank and the sheriff’s office was listed as the teenager’s place of employment.
A National Football League official told the South Florida Times that the NFL had not been asked and did not issue Super Bowl security credentials for Nick Lamberti.
“The NFL is not part of the decision-making process with regard to accreditation issued and approved by law enforcement,” Michael Signora, the NFL’s vice-president of football communications, said in an e-mail response to a query from South Florida Times.
The law enforcement security credentials issued to Nick Lamberti gave the teenager unrestricted access to Super Bowl 44, which was played at the Miami Gardens
stadium on Feb. 7, 2010.
BSO has claimed that the NFL was asked for and approved the credentials for the teenager and now the department is declining further comment following the league’s explanation.
In light of the NFL’s response, BSO was asked if the sheriff or someone else in the department would be clarifying or otherwise updating previous statements made on the issue. BSO director of media relations, Jim Leljedal, responded, “No.”
The issue of the credentials given to the younger Lamberti raise questions because false information was provided to Miami-Dade police to obtain the credentials. Including false information on official documents and transmitting them over wires, through the mail or the Internet could reach the level of a crime.
Also, the special access provided the sheriff’s son could be construed as a gift that should have been reported on Lamberti’s disclosure forms submitted to the Florida Commission on Ethics. It was not and the sheriff has not amended them.
The standard application form bearing the younger Lamberti’s name specifically requires that the scope of responsibility be stated, including a requirement that “specified duties must be within the scope of responsibility of your agency and authorized by a recognized authority or statute. Furthermore, you MUST be part of and approved by the IMT Commander.”
South Florida Times has repeatedly asked Sheriff Lamberti about the credentials issue but he has not responded.
However, in a Jan. 20 interview with the Broward/Palm Beach New Times -which is not affiliated with South Florida Times — Schnakenberg said , "There is no value to that credential.”
Schnakenberg, former director of BSO’s Internal Affairs Division, now oversees the department’s Criminal Investigations Division.
"[Nick Lamberti was being invited to attend the game and the NFL made him a pass. The public couldn't purchase that credential so it's actually zero value," Schnakenberg told the New Times.
NFL officials were unaware of the credentials being given to Nick Lamberti. Credentials are reserved for law enforcement officers, NFL officials and corporate sponsors, giving them access to players, locker rooms and the sidelines. The NFL did not provide the cost associated with such access.
“All Super Bowl XLIV law enforcement accreditation was coordinated through the lead law enforcement agency, the Miami-Dade Police Department. The NFL has no knowledge of improper credentials being issued,” Signora said.
Schnakenberg did not respond to questions when informed of Signora’s comments.
MORE QUESTIONABLE BSO DOCUMENTS
There are several versions of a BSO document titled “Super Bowl XLIV Broward Sheriff’s Office Credentials Matrix Updated 02/03/10.” The most recent shows that 39 BSO law enforcement personnel were assigned to duties at the stadium during the week leading up to the Super Bowl and on game day. It also shows the sheriff’s son had passes to the sidelines and field; access that was not provided to most BSO deputies.
According to the New Times story, Schnakenberg said Nick Lamberti was provided credentials so he could accompany his father, who was conducting official business, around the stadium and at the game.
Miami-Dade police said they did not question the names BSO submitted for credentials and were unaware Nick Lamberti was a minor.
“The Miami-Dade Police Department’s responsibility during the last Super Bowl was to conduct criminal background checks on the names that were submitted to us for credentialing,” said Commander Nancy A. Perez, director of Miami-Dade Police Department’s Media Relations Bureau, when asked if her agency was led to believe Nick Lamberti was a law enforcement officer. “We conduct checks on the names they submit and we don’t question those names.”
Judith Levine, BSO general counsel, has not responded to several public records requests. An aide said the department was not “in possession” of Nick Lamberti’s credentials application. Levine did not respond to questions seeking clarification of the issue and to explain what happened to those records, including related e-mails.
“Please be advised the Broward Sheriff’s Office is not in possession of a credentials application or a background check for Nick Lamberti,” Alba Costoya, BSO Public Records coordinator, said in response to public records requests.
Elgin Jones may be reached at EJones@SFLTimes.com
Pictured Above: BSO Capt. Robert Schnakenberg