[UPDATED] Ex-BSO official questioned hiring of lobbyist Forte

 [UPDATED with reaction from Angelo Castillo]

A former Broward Sheriff's Office top official said he questioned the hiring of lobbyist Jorge Forte to analyze vehicle use at the agency.

Meanwhile, the $15,000 report that Forte wrote for BSO has been released.

 Click here to read it.

I can save you some time by telling you that there is only one page with recommendations on it, page 10. There are a  few pages of analysis, including the excerpt posted above.

Forte was implicated this week in an FBI corruption sting in Miami-Dade County. His REALM Consulting was hired by BSO in February to analyze vehicle purchases.

(Click here for a memory refresher on Sheriff Scott Israel's statement about Forte. Israel was North Bay Village police chief and Forte was city manager.)

Former BSO Executive Director James Chinn said he never saw the report produced by Forte.

Chinn was hired by Israel but quit shortly thereafter. He said he questioned the hiring of Forte to review the BSO fleet. He said Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo, a top BSO employee, approached him about hiring Forte.

"Angelo came to me and said, 'We've gotta hire Forte and he wants $25,000 to consult with us on fleet,' '' Chinn recalled.

"I knew he was involved in the campaign,'' he said of Forte."I said, 'Well, I need  a resume.' I told him it sounded like too much money."

He said that was the last he heard. Later, he was told that BSO had hired Forte for $15,000.

I asked Castillo for his insights and will let you know if I hear back. I asked him whether the report  was worth what the agency paid.

It appears Forte was brought in after BSO had already put a bid on the streets to lease cars. Forte concluded they should proceed with the leases.

I've asked the sheriff for more comment on this, as well, particularly in light of the content of the report.

Forte is accused, along with Becker & Poliakoff lobbyist Richard Candia, Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño, and Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi, of accepting thousands of dollars from undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen, in return for championing federal grants.

[UPDATE:  Castillo said he indeed approached Chinn with the prospect of hiring Forte to analyze the fleet dilemma. He said Forte wanted $25,000 originally, but Castillo said he told Chinn he thought they could hire Forte for $15,000, and if he did a good job, he could be hired for other tasks. He said Chinn, who had responsibility for fleet, agreed to hire Forte. Without Chinn's approval, Castillo said, Forte could not have been brought on board. More to come on this.]



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