The sworn testimony of Sheriff Scott Israel in his recent ethics law case veered into the personal realm a bit, with some interesting tidbits about the countywide elected leader.
Israel was being investigated for a possible ethics violation after he and his family took a yacht trip in the days before he was sworn in last year.
In his statement to a Florida Commission on Ethics investigator, the sheriff said he cut his head on the yacht vacation and had to get stitches in a convenience store-turned-medical-clinic that accepted only cash.
The sheriff also said he doesn't drink alcohol, so he didn't drink aboard the yacht. And he said he doesn't use computers. In fact, he said he "never'' uses a computer.
The injury occurred when he went snorkeling in the Bahamas off the yacht of campaign supporter Robert Pereira.
"I split my head open and got stitches,'' he said.
The sheriff described the bizarre scenario: "It was like a 7-Eleven that turned into from a house to a 7-Eleven to a medical center. ... She took her house coat off in front of us and put on a - like she was in a 7-Eleven house coat and she put on a medical smock and then she turned this thing around and all these cookies and food - I'm not kidding - all these cookies and food you were looking at for sale now was bandages and needles. She gave me injections, too. They don't take health insurance.''
Israel said she charged about $30 cash.
When they got into port, where they were going to fly out the next morning, Israel's triplets and wife did a dolphin excursion, a short swim with dolphins.
Israel said he was prepared with cash "because we were going to gamble that night. We knew the last night we were going to be at a casino,'' he said. He tried to use some of the cash to pay for the dolphin experience, and the lady told him, "It's already been paid for. Mr. Pereira already paid for it.''
[Pereira, of Middlesex Corp., had spent money helping get the sheriff elected, and had treated the sheriff and his wife to $400-a-person New Year's Eve tickets to Donald Trump's party. He also threw a party on the yacht shortly after the sheriff won election in November 2012.]
Israel said he went to Pereira, whose young daughter had gone on the excursion, and said, "this is on us.''
Pereira wouldn't accept cash for his daughter but did accept the cash for Israel and his wife, after a "battle.'' Israel said he paid $400 for the swim-with-dolphins excursion.
The investigator asked if the sheriff researched prices for airfare and cruise lines in order to determine how much he should reimburse Pereira. The sheriff said that no, he hadn't. His attorneys had.
"If my secretary were working today, I'd tell you this - I know we don't use the word 'never' and we don't use the word 'always' but when I say, other than, I never get on the computer. I'm not a technological guy. I'm too busy for that. I'm going to meetings. I never use the computer. I wouldn't have done that. That's not something I would have done.''
The state found probable cause the sheriff violated ethics law in not reporting the yacht trip and the post-election party as gifts. But the Florida Commission on Ethics decided not to move forward to the trial-like phase, and closed the case.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun