FORT LAUDERDALE — Richard “Rick” Braswell, the Broward Sheriff’s chaplain who was forced to resign following complaints of workplace harassment, came under Internal Affairs scrutiny as far back as January, sources said.
Investigators were told that Braswell rarely submitted the required leave forms when taking vacation or other time off from work and that he may have been receiving outside compensation for performing chaplain-related services.
There were also allegations that Braswell had a private post office box and his own envelopes and stationery, which he would have staff send out through the sheriff’s office mailroom using its postage meters.
Braswell, 65, who served as BSO chaplain for more than two decades, resigned on Oct. 18 after details of an investigation into workplace harassment complaints were published in a South Florida Times article.
BSO Media Relations Director Jim Leljedal said the investigation is “ongoing” but did not respond to several questions about the specific allegations.
Neither did Braswell, nor his attorney, Bruce H. Little. During a previous interview, Little said BSO had not informed him or his client about the details.
Meanwhile, a South Florida Times investigation found Braswell received payments for chaplain-related work, and that he had his own stationery with the return address listed as a private post office box: Chaplain’s Office, P.O. Box 100354, Fort Lauderdale, Fl. 33310.
The post office box is located at the Fort Lauderdale Main Post Office in the 1900 block of West Oakland Park Boulevard.
The U.S. Postal Service does not release ownership information of personal post office boxes.
“It belongs to an individual but that’s confidential so we can’t disclose any information about the owner,” said Debra Fedderly, a U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman.
Some of the mailings were stamped with a postal meter number. Fedderly said the name of the owner of the meter is also confidential.
Beverly Buss, 67, is a retired BSO court bailiff who now lives in Port St. Lucie. When her husband died earlier this year, she said, Braswell performed the services.
“I gave him a donation and I was more than glad to do it. I really can’t say anything bad about the man,” Buss said. “He did a service in Fort Lauderdale and then drove all the way up to Port St. Lucie and did another one.”
It is customary for religious leaders to receive donations, gifts or love offerings when they give sermons or preside over various ceremonies. BSO policy prohibits employees from accepting these gifts, tips, or honorariums.
Asked about the amount of her donation and if it was returned, Buss said, “It’s a private matter and he’s a great man.”
Others have given Braswell payments as well. Some refused to discuss the matter when contacted and it remains unclear whether those funds were returned.
The Rev. Dr. Robert C. Stanley, senior pastor of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Pompano Beach, said Braswell was the church’s Sunday morning speaker on Jan. 31, 2010, and was given an honorarium of $300.
“It is standard for us at Hopewell to give our speakers honorariums when they render service,” Stanley said.
Stanley said he recalls Braswell not wanting to accept the check and doing so only after Stanley insisted. Braswell endorsed it, but Stanley said about a week later Braswell sent him a personal check refunding the $300.
***Pictured above if former BSO chaplain Rick Braswell