FORT LAUDERDALE – Fort Lauderdale police have opened a criminal investigation into an alleged workplace altercation between two managers in the city’s building department that included death threats and talk of a gun.
“The chief of police was made aware of this for the first time last night,” Sgt. Frank Sousa, spokesman for the Fort Lauderdale police department, said on Friday, Sept. 10. “We’ve initiated a criminal investigation.”
The confrontation allegedly took place several weeks ago, but the exact date is unclear. City officials said they learned of it on Sept.7 through an anonymous letter sent to commissioners purportedly from a building department employee who claimed to have witnessed the incident.
“A manager from the Building Department Alex Hernandez recently threatened to kill Code Manager Michael Maloney in a fit of rage over the fact that his wife Assistant Code Manager Deborah Hernandez was having an affair with her boss Mr. Maloney,” the two-page letter alleges.
The unsigned and undated letter also states that several other employees in the building department witnessed the confrontation and that Hernandez had to be restrained by a relative who also works in the building. It goes into detail about various aspects of the incident, including the allegation that Hernandez threatened to kill Maloney and that a gun was either displayed or mentioned by one of the men.
Maloney refused to accept two phone calls about the incident when contacted at his office Friday. A secretary referred calls to a city spokesperson. Hernandez couldn’t be reached at the building department office.
The incident allegedly occurred at the city’s One Stop Shop, 700 NW 19th Ave., just north of Sistrunk Boulevard. The facility houses the code enforcement, building permitting and inspections units, among other agencies. Maloney is a manager in the code enforcement division. Hernandez is a chief mechanical inspector in the building services division and his wife is an assistant manager in the code enforcement division and reports directly to Maloney.
The letter also alleges that the building department’s director Valerie Bohlander stopped employees and other supervisors from reporting the incident. Bohlander did not respond to efforts to contact her about that allegation.
One worker stationed at the building, who requested anonymity, said the incident did take place and said the work environment remains tense. The whistleblower who sent the anonymous letter to commissioners also in the letter expressed fear of reporting to work.
“I am now in constant fear to go to work every day,” the letter reads. “I am afraid that this issue will escalate and that I or one of my co-workers will be injured or even killed.”