A sheriff's deputy in Broward County, Florida was rehired and assigned to a local courthouse despite being the subject of five internal affairs investigations and allegations of sexual misconduct dating back more than 20 years.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on Tuesday that 53-year-old Edwin Sanchez was hired on April 14 and posted as a civilian courtroom deputy for the Broward Sheriff's Office. Sanchez was fired in July 2008 from the Broward's Sheriff's Office following accusations by a 21-year-old woman booked on drug trafficking charges that he tried to look down her shirt, asked for her phone number and asked her out on a date upon her release.
His firing was also spurred by his failure to reveal that he had been fired from the police department as a cadet in Margate, Florida, in 1980 for giving the middle finger to an instructor.
Arbitrator Robert B. Hoffman dismissed the allegations against Sanchez, writing in a 29-page decision that the woman's account could not be corroborated by either court reportings or testimony from other inmates and court personnel. Hoffman similarly disregarded the earlier firing, saying that Sanchez's application asked him only for his work history within the 10-year-period preceding his 1999 application for the position in Broward.
At the time of his application, the office's human resource manager argued that Sanchez should not be hired because of "unfavorable employment information." That recommendation was overruled by Col. John Auer, now retired.
"It was a complete exoneration of the allegations against him," said Sanchez's attorney, Tony Alfero of his re-hiring. "He's very happy to be back, he's going to keep as low of a profile as possible. He's not gloating over it. He's just happy to have his life back."
Sanchez was rehired at his old salary of $43,523 a year and awarded 17 months' worth of back pay. Before being fired from the sheriff's office, he received three written reprimands for propositioning a defendant's pregnant girlfriend; allowing jury deliberations to be overheard in a courtroom, nearly causing a mistrial; and he received a two-day suspension without pay for allegedly using his status to intimidate a woman during a "traffic incident."
Sanchez was also forced to resign as a police officer in Pompano Beach in 1989 following allegations from four prostitutes that he would have sex with them while on duty. Two of the women told detectives that they would have sex with Sanchez to avoid going to jail.
A spokesperson for the sheriff's office said it was "bound by the ruling to reinstate [Sanchez]." His new position, however, does not grant him the powers of a law enforcement officer.
["Happy, laughing police officer" via Shutterstock]