The race to become Broward’s top cop continues to be one the most contentious sheriff’s race in the state. The candidates’ claws are coming out as we rapidly approach the November election, as it appears the race could be won or lost by way of a strip club or political dirt.
Last week, we wrote a story regarding possible inaccuracies on a past employment application of the current Broward Sheriff, Gregory Tony. However, a week later, we investigated ironic claims that his opponent, Scott Israel, was himself caught lying on his FLDE background check as part of his employment application
It has now come out that Israel’s political action committee, Committee for A Stronger Broward, has received a $50,000 donation from Julie Rodriguez, the wife of Cheetah’s strip club owner Joe Rodriguez. Cheetahs' is a full-nude and friction/lap dancing adult nightclub chain.
Cheetahs nightclub has popular locations in Pompano Beach, Hallandale Beach, and West Palm Beach, and is no stranger to police presence. The Pompano Beach location is within Broward Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction and happens to also be situated in one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods of the county.
A simple internet search reveals the club has been associated with criminal activity and multiple arrests from the location. NBC reported back in 2009, Cheetah’s temporary closure due to several violations of the club’s licensure including multiple arrests after dancers attempted to sell drugs and sex to undercover officers with management’s knowledge. In confiscated surveillance videos, multiple sex acts were captured on film showing dancers acting as prostitutes in the club.
As reported by the Sun-Sentinel, in 2012, Broward Sheriff’s Deputy, Erik Knutsen, was fired after being caught abandoning his post in Pompano Beach to hang out at The Cheetah Club. Allegations were made that he engaged in sex acts with dancers while on duty as a patrol officer, and after an internal investigation, he was terminated.
Knutsen, however, was not the only BSO employee linked to the establishment. In 2012, Brent Wooddell, who was a suspended BSO deputy on house arrest for robbing cash from a drug dealer, cut his home confinement bracelet off and went to Cheetah Club in Pompano Beach where he was later arrested.
These two incidents seem to indicate that BSO and its deputies have a certain affinity for this particular club. The club’s location, its history of crime, and the subsequent campaign donations received by Scott Israel from the owner of Cheetah through his wife certainly raise eyebrows as a possible conflict of interest between the agency and the club should Israel become the leader of the Sheriff’s Office.