FORT LAUDERDALE – A photograph of Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti and his son both wearing what appear to be official credentials at a college football championship game is raising new questions about how the teenager gained entry into another prestigious South Florida sporting event.
The photograph, which is of poor quality, shows Lamberti, along with his then 14-year-old son Nick, since convicted Ponzi scheme attorney Scott Rothstein, Broward Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Tom Wheeler and Broward Sheriff Office Lt. Dave Benjamin embracing while posing for cameras.
In the photograph, Nick Lamberti appears to be wearing the same credentials with an orange lanyard as his father. Credentials for sporting events are usually granted to corporate sponsors, law enforcement officials and VIP guests. Asked about the photograph, BSO Media Relations Director Jim Leljedal told the South Florida Times the sheriff’s office would not discuss the matter.
According to several sources, the picture was taken at the NCAA’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS) national title game between the University of Florida and the University of Oklahoma which was played on Jan. 8, 2009, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
The picture reportedly was taken under a tent Rothstein set up at the stadium on game day, when his vodka company V Georgio hosted a reception for VIPs prior to kick off. The photo first surfaced more than a year ago on the Daily Pulp, a Broward/Palm Beach New Times blog by reporter Bob Norman. According to Norman’s report, at the time Leljedal confirmed the photograph was taken at the BCS championship game. In that report Leljedal said Sheriff Lamberti was working special security detail at the event.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) are already conducting a joint investigation into law enforcement credentials that BSO obtained for Lamberti’s son so he could enter the 2010 Super Bowl game which was also played at Sun Life Stadium. For the Super Bowl credentials, BSO submitted an application that indicated the younger Lamberti, who at the time was 15, was part of BSO’s contingent that provided security for the Indianapolis Colts. They further indicated his employee number was “BSO 0000” and stated that his immediate supervisor was the sheriff.
David Schulson, the Broward State Attorney’s Office prosecutor assigned to that investigation, referred calls about the photograph to FDLE.
“In any investigation, as we receive new information we will review it to determine if it’s relevant to the issues we are examining,” said Heather Smith, an FDLE spokeswoman.
The Miami-Dade police department, which handled credentialing for the BCS game, said it never issued any credentials to the teenager for the championship or related events. M-DPD supplied documentation to support that contention. Commander Nancy A. Perez, director of the M-DPD Media Relations Bureau, provided South Florida Times with a “credentials matrix” used by the Orange Bowl Committee for the BCS Championship Game.
“I have redacted all the names for other agencies except BSO. They submitted 15 names, none are Nick Lamberti Jr. and all are law enforcement officers,” Perez said in an e-mail. Major Greg Terp, supervisor of M-DPD’s Special Patrols Bureau, coordinated the credentials process. After reviewing the picture, Perez said M-DPD could not explain how or where Nick Lamberti got the credentials he is seen wearing.
South Florida Times has learned that BSO submitted a list of 15 employees in whose names law enforcement credentials were issued to work security at the game. But at least one BSO employee whose name was among the 15 said he did not apply to or work the BCS Championship game and was unaware that credentials had been issued in his name until contacted by South Florida Times last week.
Lt. Col. Danny Wright, when asked in an e-mail if he was on security detail at the game, replied, “No, I was not. I don't work details.” BSO has not explained how or why this occurred or said what happened to the credentials obtained in Wright’s name or if it happened to others. MDPD officials seemed perplexed.
“BSO would have to advise further,” Perez said. “The process was for agencies involved to submit their credential requests to the OBC and these were reviewed by the Sun Life Stadium staff and MDPD. BSO’s responsibility for this game was the University of Florida football team.”
In the Photo Above:
Nick Lamberti, left, is seen wearing what appears to be official BCS Championship game credentials. His father, Sheriff Al Lamberti, is third from left. In the center is since convicted Ponzi scheme attorney Scott Rothstein. Other are BSO Lt. Dave Benjamin and BSO Undersheriff Tom Wheeler.