On Friday, Sept. 29, Palm Beach County’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released Investigative Report 2022-0012: City of Pahokee Sale of Surplus Property. The report dealt with the improper sale of two City-owned all-terrain vehicles (ATVs or 4-wheelers) by Former City Manager Greg Thompson. At the August 18, 2021 Special Meeting, Brandenburg named Greg Thompson as Interim Manager. At that meeting, Perez motioned to approve Thompson with a second from Gonzalez. The vote passed 3-2 with Babb and Murvin in dissent. One month later, on Sept, 28, 2021, at the Commission Meeting, at 2:23:11, Bohlen motioned to make Thompson the permanent manager which was seconded by Perez. That vote was 3-2 again with Babb and Murvin against.
The allegation was that “City Manager Thompson improperly directed staff to dispose of city-owned property and inappropriately benefitted personally from that action.” The OIG found this allegation to be supported. In the report, it states, “Nevertheless, without seeking guidance from the Commission, Mr. Thompson directed City staff to conduct a closed bidding process purportedly for all employees in order to dispose of the ATVs. However, Mr. Thompson did not take steps to ensure that all employees were notified of the bidding opportunity. He ultimately declared himself the winning bidder, but there is no evidence that he actually submitted a timely bid. After acquiring the ATV, he sold the ATV for an undisclosed profit.” Thompson brought up the ATVs at the December 14, 2021 meeting at 2:23:06. You can compare his words to the report’s findings.
The report further went on to say on page 2, “The City Manager’s disposal of City-owned property in a manner that was not approved by the governing body and that personally benefitted him is inconsistent with government accounting best practices for safeguarding assets.” The OIG interviewed Former City Manager Greg Thompson which appears on pages 14-15. On page 15, “Mr. Thompson told the OIG that it was his intent that if he won an ATV, he would re-sell it and donate the money back to the City. After Mr. Thompson was terminated from City employment in March 2022, he sold the ATV on Facebook Marketplace to an unknown person north of Lake Okeechobee for a profit. He stated that he did not feel obligated to return money to the City because of his termination. Mr. Thompson stated he did not keep any records of that sale. When repeatedly asked, Mr. Thompson reiterated that he had no other details about this sale.” On page 18 of Report 2022-0012: “He (Thompson) did recall that he profited from the sale.” The OIG Report also pointed to another issue, MISUSE OF PUBLIC POSITION by Greg Thompson. This is addressed on page 19.
Overall the investigative report makes clear that “The totality of conduct by then-City Manager Thompson reflects a blatant lack of responsibility, fairness, accountability, and basic stewardship of taxpayer dollars.” Another slap in the face to Pahokee’s government, community, residents, and to the general public is that Greg Thompson felt no need to respond to the report. This was addressed on page 20, “Pursuant to Article XII, Section 2-427 of the Palm Beach County Code, Greg Thompson was provided the opportunity to submit a written explanation or rebuttal to the finding as stated in the Investigative Report within ten (10) calendar days. Mr. Thompson did not submit a response.”
I am glad to see that the OIG referred Mr. Thompson’s actions to the State of Florida Commission on Ethics, and notified the State Attorney’s Office for an assessment of possible criminal actions. They also referred the matter to the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics.
I squarely place blame for this OIG report on Bohlen, Perez and Gonzalez who hired Thompson as the Pahokee City Manager on Oct, 12, 2021. This occurred at that meeting at 1:32:35 with Resolution 2021:38. Thompson was brought on board without an application and resume at the behest of his friend Mr. Brandenburg. This was carried out without oversight or due diligence by Bohlen, Perez, and Gonzalez with no regard to consequences.
Current City Manager Lucas sent the preliminary OIG report to the Commission on September 19. The elected officials had it for 7 days when the next regular meeting happened on September 26. Ten days after the Commission received the report, the OIG made it public on Friday, September 29. I requested official response to the report from Bohlen, Perez, and Gonzalez via their emails. I have yet to be contacted.
I call upon the citizens of Pahokee to publically ask Perez, Gonzalez, and Bohlen for their response to Thompson’s actions as well as the report. They should also be asked if they still take ownership of their action to put Thompson in the manager role. Also, ask them if they accept blame for this particular OIG report as they have criticized past OIG reports under a different manager. Lastly, Gonzalez, Perez, and Bohlen (who now works as aide to District 6 County Commissioner) should answer in an official meeting if Thompson should face criminal charges. They should support such actions by the authorities.
Ultimately, the voters deserve the direct answers to the above questions from the three individuals (Bohlen, Perez, and Gonzalez) that brought Thompson to Pahokee with the help of Brandenburg. Perez yells about corruption at nearly every city meeting. Here is clear evidence of such by someone she helped install to run the day to day operations of the city. Bohlen, Perez, and Gonzalez should be held accountable for this latest report and for failing to safeguard against Thompson’s MISUSE OF PUBLIC POSITION. Voters should remember this when both Perez and Gonzalez’s seats are up for election on March 19, 2024.
Always Progress Pahokee.