HIGHLAND BEACH — A senior official with the Highland Beach Police Department is being accused of failing to disclose on his employment application that a criminal investigation by a previous employer determined he engaged in insurance fraud.
The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union filed complaints against Lt. Eric Lundberg with city officials and the newly formed Palm Beach County Inspector General’s Office, which investigates allegations of corruption, mismanagement and waste in most governmental entities.
“This was brought to the attention of the city manager and the police chief and they looked the other way,” said Joe Puleo, an FOP representative.
Puleo alleges Lundberg falsified his application and handed out town contracts to a company that was not licensed to do business in Palm Beach County.
Neither Lundberg nor Highland Beach City Manager Kathleen Weiser returned calls or responded to emails from the South Florida Times seeking comment. However, Police Chief Craig Hartmann, saying he was speaking on their behalf, said the issues have been addressed.
“Per your inquiry to myself, the Town Manager and to the Police Lieutenant, the Town has already responded to the union’s allegations — which were unfounded,” Hartmann said in an email to the South Florida Times.
Lundberg, 46, is second in command of the 15-member Highland Beach Police Department. The city hired him in October 2003 after he resigned as a deputy from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department in January 2002. He checked “No” on his employment application in answer to a question that asked if he was ever fired or forced to resign for misconduct or unsatisfactory service.
Records show he had several workers’ compensation claims while he worked with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the last of which resulted from a July 2000 on-duty motorcycle accident. After he was unable to return to work full duty for some time, Internal Affairs opened an investigation.
Chad R. Scibilia, now a captain in the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, confirmed to the South Florida Times that he and a partner conducted the investigation and compiled field notes about what they observed.
Records show Scibilia witnessed and videotaped Lundberg from Nov. 23 to Nov. 30, 2001, performing various types of physical activities at his Lake Worth home, where he had recently relocated. His activities included lifting heavy items while shopping, doing yard work and not wearing a neck brace a doctor had prescribed.
“During this entire time Eric seemed to be moving in a normal manner and displayed no signs of pain or discomfort while walking, bending or lifting the heavy objects,” Scibilia wrote.
Lundberg’s Internal Affairs case log indicates the results of the investigation sustained a “Commission of a Felony-Insurance Fraud” finding against him. It also states the discipline was “Member resigned not eligible for rehire.”
Lundberg was never charged in the case. Nevertheless, when informed of the investigation, he submitted his resignation on Dec. 7, 2001. Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward said his staff is attempting to gather information to determine how the case was handled.
Highland Beach Chief Hartmann addressed this issue in an internal memo to the manager, Weiser.
“The last point that they (union) raise that Lt. Lundberg lied on his application is incorrect,” Hartmann wrote in his memo dated Nov. 17, 2011. “Lt. Lundberg advised that his reasons for leaving the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office were actually more or less a combination of medical reasons and moving out of the area.”
But a review of his Highland Beach employment application shows Lundberg listed “moved out of area” as the reason he resigned from the Monroe job. Another section of the same application and records on file with the Palm Beach Property Appraiser’s Office show he actually relocated six months prior to resigning. It was in Lake Worth that he was videotaped by Monroe’s Internal Affairs.
The union complaint also alleges that Lundberg signed off on town contracts for a vendor who was not licensed to perform work in Palm Beach County. Hartmann said in his memo that the contractor is a longtime vendor and is incorporated in the state but did not have local occupational licenses.
The firm, Patch Me Thru Inc., provides computer-related services and law enforcement patches, badges and vehicle striping. After the complaint was filed, the firm obtained an occupational license from the city of Boynton Beach, where it is located.
Highland Beach is a 1.1-square-mile town located along the Atlantic Ocean in southern Palm Beach County just north of Boca Raton. It has a population of around 4,000, according to the most recent census data.
After being hired in 2003 as a police officer, Lundberg was promoted to sergeant in 2006 and to lieutenant in 2009. He is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and the recipient of several awards while he worked in Monroe County.
Union officials want an independent investigation into the issues.
“It looks like a classic case of them burying their heads in sand,” Puleo said. “I don’t know if any crime occurred but this should be investigated to see what else is going on. We will likely end up at the state attorney office.”
*Photo: Lt. Eric Lundberg