By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
• was "not serious" about setting up Senter and Weinberg, according to a State Attorney's Office memo declining to charge Davis with a crime.
• might have violated Surfside's sexual harassment policy by telling police dispatcher Marian Valino she needed "a real man like him" and making other inappropriate comments.
• lied on his job background questionnaire several times, including when he answered "none" to a question asking him if he had ever been arrested, stopped, or temporarily detained by a police department.
• used the town's computers and his take-home car for personal use.
• made "unwelcome personal advances of a sexual nature" to Melanie Grove, a Miccosukee Police officer who had been dismissed by Surfside in 2005.
In conclusion, Franklin — who was paid $35,000 — commented, "Davis's credibility inevitably must be called into question."
Of course Davis's boss, Chief O'Reilly, had a credibility problem too. In March he retired after 15 years on the force to avoid being fired for reasons including lying about using his town computer to access his personal Yahoo account.
After reviewing the complaints, the new Surfside chief, David Allen, on August 19 stripped Davis of his sergeant stripes and cut his $73,340 annual salary by $16,000; then, several weeks later, Allen recommended firing him. Questioned about the decision, the new chief notes that Davis had been reprimanded four times in the past year for discourtesy to fellow officers and insubordination. "Every allegation against Davis came from police officers and employees here," Allen continues. "The investigations speak for themselves."
John Davis is dressed in a dark navy suit just before noon September 13. He and his union representative, Joe Puleo, are standing in the parking lot across the street from Surfside Town Hall. The two men have just left an hour-long meeting discussing Chief Allen's recommendation that Davis be terminated.
Puleo, a scruffy and boisterous man, lights a cigar and takes a puff. "They are totally frustrated," he says of the town officials. "That meeting was a joke."
Puleo says Franklin's reports are filled with inaccuracies and unsubstantiated innuendo. "They want to make a case where it doesn't exist," he says. "We have even offered to take a polygraph. It is so obvious they are going after him."
Their motivation, Davis claims, is his recommendation that federal prosecutors look into the town's political leaders' misdeeds. Those leaders, he says, encouraged the complaints against him. He claims he never sexually harassed Grove or Valino, nor did he lie on his job application. Davis does not deny accessing his personal e-mail account and typing instant messages to female friends on his town-issued computer.
"I'll admit I'm a hard-ass, and I was tough with some of my colleagues," Davis says. "But I never acted inappropriately with female co-workers.
"It's no coincidence all these complaints were filed after Burkett came to power and he put Senter on the personnel appeals board," he adds.
Responds Burkett: "Mr. Davis's assertion that he was targeted by me is very misplaced.... My job as mayor was to recognize that our police department was broken and that we needed new and effective leadership to fix it. That was my goal, and that's what got done."
The Degraves, meanwhile, are no longer together. This past June 22, they divorced. Daniel lives at the house on 88th Street, and Brigitte moved into one of their other remaining properties, a three-bedroom home at 8927 Garland Ave.
Daniel Degrave, a handsome Frenchman with blondish-white hair, says their lives were completely destroyed. "My wife left me because of this mess," he says during a recent meeting in his living room. "She couldn't take it. We lost everything."
He insists they are not criminals — despite the claims in Kostrzewski's 2004 memo. "After three, four years, they found nothing," Degrave says. "What proof do they have? None. There is no price on what I have lost."
Davis simply wants to return to work. "I really don't care who the mayor is, who the police chief is, who the town manager is," he says. "I just want to enforce the law without passion or prejudice."
In Surfside that seems unlikely to happen.