Deerfield Beach mayor target of criminal investigation

Deerfield Beach is a small city with a history of big legal problems for its elected officials, and now the current mayor is in the hot seat. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.

7News has learned Deerfield Beach Mayor Jean Robb is the target of a criminal investigation.

Mayor Jean Robb: “It’s the little people that really run the city.”

Mayor Robb took office in March of last year, and now the Broward State Attorney’s Office is investigating her behavior in office. She is already facing an ethics complaint after an investigation by Broward’s Inspector General.

Mayor Jean Robb: “You’re not getting anything from me.”

Carmel Cafiero: “Why not?

Mayor Jean Robb: “I’ve known you for ages.”

Carmel Cafiero: “Oh, don’t touch me.”

Mayor Jean Robb: “Well, I’ve seen you on Channel 7.”

For an 82-year-old, she had a pretty firm grip on my wrist. At commission meetings, she also has a firm grip.

Mayor Jean Robb: “You impugned my honesty by saying that I demanded that the sheriff give somebody a job. Well, damn it, I did not.”

Within months of taking office, Robb ran into trouble after Sheriff Scott Israel said she demanded he hire a relative of one of her friends.

Sheriff Scott Israel: “She said that I had a week or two to have an application on her desk from a potential firefighter and that I was going to hire him and it needed to be done in an expedient fashion.”

Carmel Cafiero: “Could you believe that?”

Scott Israel: “I really couldn’t.”

Mayor Jean Robb: “And what he has told you is an absolute lie!”

When called out on the issue at a commission meeting, the mayor said it never happened. The sheriff was so concerned, he came to the next meeting to say, “Oh, yes, it did.”

Sheriff Scott Israel: “I serve countless mayors and commissioners and city managers, and it hasn’t happened before or since, and so it was disconcerting.”

More recently, Mayor Robb was hit with a stinging report of misconduct by the Inspector General. The report accuses her of ordering a code enforcement officer to leave a local auto dealership alone, saying the owner “just gave me two $500 checks,” money later donated to charities; ordering city staff to clean her church’s parking lot and give a city parking sticker to the pastor; trying to block a contract to a vendor she did not like; and giving orders to city employees, all without authorization from the city manager, which is required by the city’s charter.

Joe Miller: “It violates the oath we took when we took the office. It’s as if, ‘All you guys, you have to do the charter, but I’m gonna do what I want to do.'”

Commissioners Joe Miller and Bill Ganz are concerned residents will lose faith in how their city does business.

Bill Ganz: “We want them to have confidence in our government and you see something like this, and it hurts. It’s definitely disappointing, so we’ll just have to work harder.”

Carmel Cafiero: “What do you have to say about the ethical challenges to your behavior?”

The mayor would not respond.

Mayor Jean Robb: “Would you please get out of here?”

Carmel Cafiero: “This is not Jean Robb’s first go-around as mayor. She served from 1980 through 1993. Now it will be up to the State Ethics Commission and State Attorney’s Office to determine the quality of her leadership today.”

Carmel Cafiero, 7News.

IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE:
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E-mail: clue@wsvn.com