richard_e._perez__web_3.jpgWilton Manors Police Chief Richard E. Perez, already under investigation for alleged perjury, now faces a new allegation that he submitted a false affidavit to the courts in order to dismiss a traffic ticket issued to a former city commissioner.

As a result of Perez’s affidavit, the judge issued an order dismissing the case against former City Commissioner Diane Cline, for stopping in traffic on the tracks at a railroad crossing.

Other motorists who allegedly committed the same offense on the same day were not so lucky: No other tickets issued that day at that place were dismissed.

“Officer issued citation when the Dept. wanted educational warnings,” Perez wrote in an April 29 affidavit submitted to Broward County Court. “Additionally: Def. is elderly and terminally ill.”

The traffic ticket in question was issued by Officer David Akers on April 20.

diane_cline__web.jpgAn anonymous complaint filed with the Broward State Attorney’s Office alleges that, contrary to the assertions Perez made in his affidavit, Akers was, in fact, never instructed to issue warnings instead of actual citations for motor-vehicle violations.

In fact, during National Railroad Safety Awareness Week, which runs from April 18-24, officers are encouraged to be even more vigilant about railroad-crossing violations than at other times of the year.

“I don’t care to discuss it,” Akers said when contacted. “No comment.”

Efforts to reach Cline were unsuccessful.

Other motorists were issued tickets at that same railroad crossing, on the same day and for the same moving violation attributed to Akers, but Perez allegedly only sought to have Cline’s dismissed.

At least one of the other defendants was not pleased with the apparent discrepancy.

“If it’s true, I am furious because that ticket could cost me 260 bucks, and I go to court next month. Why should I have to pay when someone else doesn’t?” said Bruce Anderson of Plantation, who was cited at the crossing that day.

“The chief shouldn’t be fixing tickets. That’s the whole point, to make people learn from their mistakes. If nothing else, he should be reprimanded, but I don’t know what the law is on that,” he said.

Perez is already the subject of an ongoing perjury investigation conducted by the Broward State’s Attorneys Office, as well as an internal city review over his alleged failure to use leave time when he took time off from work.

Perez did not respond to calls or several emails seeking comment. His attorney, Robert D. Klausner, could not be reached for comment.

The allegations are detailed in a complaint filed anonymously with prosecutors in the State Attorney’s Office.

“I am told a complaint has been presented to us,” Ron Ishoy, a spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office, said in an email. He would not elaborate further.

According to sources, prosecutors notified Perez of their latest investigation into his conduct last week, as they were issuing several subpoenas related to the latest allegations.

This investigation stems back to National Railroad Safety Awareness Week. The annual, national campaign is intended to bring heightened railroad safety practices to the attention of motorists and pedestrians. Typically, law enforcement agencies carry out increased patrols near railroad crossings.
Citations are issued for violations such as breaching the crossings and stopping on the tracks.

Akers was the city’s traffic officer, and issued 12 tickets during the campaign. Ten of those, including the one given to Cline, were for violations related to stopping on the railroad tracks and other crossing-related violations.

At the time, Perez reportedly criticized Akers for giving Cline a citation. Additionally, Akers was reassigned out of traffic operations and placed on road-patrol duty as a result.

City Manager Joseph Gallegos did not respond to questions about Akers’ status, and the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) union, which represents Akers, declined comment.

Another motorist who received a citation just minutes before Cline, on the same day, was Stephen Bromfield of Fort Lauderdale. His wife, at least, was not overly concerned about the allegations. 

“Everybody just does favors for everybody. I don’t sweat the small stuff, so I’m not that concerned about it,” Donna Bromfield said. “It would be nice if it was us, but I’m not going to rat the guy [Perez] out over it. We gave it [the traffic ticket] to our attorney and it’s pending, so I don’t know how much the final cost will be.”

Bromfield’s case is set for trial Aug. 18.

Cline, 77, served as a city commissioner from 1982 to 1986, and as an interim commissioner for several months in 2008. She has served on countless city advisory boards, including the city’s Historical Society, where she is the current president.

The other State Attorney’s Office investigation into Perez’s conduct centers on allegations of perjury related to his testimony in a 2007 civil trial brought by his friend, Philip “Phil” Cameron against Cameron’s former employer, the Fraternal Order of Police union. Cameron went on to win a $333,688.64 judgment from the union and two of its officials.

Gallegos, the city manager, has also ordered an investigation into allegations that Perez failed to use leave time when taking days off from work. The move came after allegations surfaced earlier this year that Perez and members of his command staff never used leave time when they took vacations, and instead received normal pay. Perez remains on regular duty in Wilton Manors.

Perez, 58, was hired to head the 46-member department in 2006, becoming the first Hispanic chief in the city’s history.  He is a former, 22-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Perez in 2006 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission (CJSTC), which provides training and certification to law-enforcement agencies across the state.

“There is not a CJSTC policy that calls for a commission member to be placed on leave from his or her commission duties while being investigated,” said Kristen Chernosky, the FDLE’s communication director, in an email to the South Florida Times. “Chief Perez is still an active commission member at this time.”


Pictured:   Chief Richard E. Perez, above, Diane Cline, below