Investigation Documents Chip LaMarca’s Threats and Intimidation Of Broward Health Employees

An investigation by the Berger Singerman law firm discovered a pattern of threats and intimidation directed by Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca at Broward Health employees. Berger Singerman was hired by the Broward Health commissioners to monitor the Inspector General of Florida investigation into claims of corruption involving contract procurement at the North Broward Hospital District. Mitchell Berger and lawyers at his firm interviewed LaMarca and Broward Health officials regarding a multi-million dollar contract with Zimmerman Advertising.

Chip LaMarca’s role in the $71 million dollar contract for Zimmerman Advertising dominates the 132 page report from Berger Singerman. The report was made public at last week’s meeting of the Broward Health Board. Over the weekend, many news reports focused upon an August 2015 meeting at a North Broward Waffle House restaurant.

Chip LaMarca met the late Dr. Nabil El Sanadi and Doris Peek, a Broward Health senior vice president to discuss the Zimmerman Advertising contract. While LaMarca claims Zimmerman hired him to perform “community relations,” the Berger Singerman report shows he was the main force pushing the contract. According to the report, Peek claims LaMarca threatened El Sanadi. Peek stated the purpose of the meeting “was to discuss Zimmerman’s desire to epand its contract with the District and Mr. LaMarca carried the conversation.” LaMarca told Berger Singerman lawyers that El Sanadi called for the meeting. LaMarca said El Sanadi wanted his advice on “how El Sanadi should approach Mr. Zimmerman about the maketing issue.” Peek claims LaMarca stated at this meeting that his role at Zimmerman was to develop new business for Zimmerman Advertising.

At the same meeting, Peek stated LaMarca asked Broward Health to move its marketing working group meetings to a new night. The group met on Tuesdays, the same day as Broward County Commission meetings. When she asked why he wanted to attend these meetings, Peek claims LaMarca said, “he wished to identify new opportunities which could be mutually beneficial to the District and Zimmerman.”

During the Waffle House meeting, Peek claims Chip LaMarca leveled a direct threat at El Sanadi. Peek told investigators that LaMarca said, “I put you here, and I can take you out.” Peek believes LaMarca wanted El Sanadi to support the lucrative contract for Zimmerman Advertising. El Sanadi committed suicide earlier this year.

LAMARCA GOES ON THE OFFENSIVE

After news of the threat went public, Chip LaMarca moved quickly to deny that it ever happened.  LaMarca told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel it was “ridiculous, outlandish statement.” In an interview with the Florida Bulldog, LaMarca said, “Having been raised by a good mother, the only way I can describe that woman [Peek] is that she was untruthful.” LaMarca told Bob Norman of WPLG Local 10 News, “This is an unfactual allegation. It’s a lie….I wouldn’t threaten a friend.”

The Berger Singerman reports states LaMarca ire may have been directed at Doris Peek as well. Peek was originally scheduled to deliver the Zimmerman proposal to the Broward Health board, but Berger Singerman lawyers learned El Sanadi wanted Peek “removed from the process” because “members of the Zimmerman team were complaining about her ‘interference’ and ‘obstruction.'” Peek believed Jordan Zimmerman and Chip LaMarca tried to get her fired many times between 2015 and El Sanadi’s death in 2016.

LaMarca denied her tried to get Peek fired, “Although he did concede that he believed her to be ‘skeptical’ of Zimmerman’s abilities.”

LaMarca claims he resigned as Vice President of Community Relations for Zimmerman Advertising on March 25 in order to talk to Berger Singerman lawyers. On the same day, lawyers for Zimmerman Advertising advised Berger Singerman they spoke to the Chief Inspector General of Florida. William Shepherd of Holland & Knight wrote, “We have offered to cooperate in [the Inspector General] formal investigation if she feels that is necessary; however, at this time, it does not seem appropriate to work with your law firm in its private engagement.” Why would Chip LaMarca decide not to wait for the Inspector General? Has LaMarca already talked to State investigators? Why would he give up a lucrative job to speak with Berger Singerman lawyers? Was he aware of Peek’s allegations before his interview? 

 

Broward Democrat Consultants, Former Candidate Sign Onto Anti-Sheriff Scott Israel Campaign

According to multiple sources, James Fondo will be the latest Democrat challenger to Broward Sheriff Scott Israel. These sources tell REDBROWARD Fondo, a retired Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) employee, will file for the race within the next week. Unlike previous challengers, Fondo’s campaign will be aided by a shadowy political committee, Citizens Over Public Safety (COPS).

In January 2013, Fondo, one of many “high ranking pals” of former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, received a “sick payout” before Scott Israel took control of BSO. According to Bob Norman of WPLG Local 10, Lamberti paid $142, 956 to Fondo. On Facebook, Fondo states he current works for SIG 9, a Sunrise private investigation firm.

In 1990, Fondo made headlines for his actions on the FOX television program COPS. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Fondo’s mishandling of a bag of cocaine forced the Broward State Attorney to drop charges against Dania Beach drug dealers. A Broward judge stated videotape from an episode of COPS contradicted Fondo’s sworn testimony.

Fondo took the stand on Friday and testified that he saw four men, including Ford, 19, huddled around a bench at Modello Park in Dania. He stopped his car and watched them cutting up cocaine, he said. As he got out of the car, he saw Ford drop a plastic bag near the bench, he said.” A cameraman for the program testified Ford was not seen dropping the bag. Fondo claimed television producers asked him to re-enact the dropping of the bag. “Cops producer John Langley released a statement in November saying that the TV show does not air re-enactments and that the show`s crews are advised of this before they go into the field.”

Fondo is a close friend of Louis Granteed, Sheriff Israel’s Democrat challenger in 2012. Fondo’s Facebook page is filled with pictures of him and Granteed attending family events. But Granteed is not Fondo’s biggest backer in local politics.

Sources say James Chinn, a former BSO official, is funding the Citizens Over Public Safety political committee. Two sources claim the committee will launch direct attacks on Sheriff Israel. The committee will allow fondo to stay above the fray.

These sources claim Chinn met with local Democrat consultant Dan Lewis about running the anti-Israel campaign.