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Is Sheriff Lamberti's inner circle falling apart?

Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti has called for two internal affairs investigations into members of his inner circle in the past month.

First, he ordered an internal affairs investigation into his executive officer, Lt. David Benjamin. It was Benjamin who escorted Scott Rothstein to an airplane when he fled to Morocco in late October, but the investigation focuses on whether Benjamin followed the agency's rules when he opened a side business earlier this year -- with the help of an attorney at Rothstein's firm. Benjamin has been pushed into a less visible job at BSO and Lamberti has announced that he is re-working the rules on outside employment.

On Friday, BSO launched a separate internal affairs investigation into anyone connected to an April 2008 drug bust. The crack case itself was minor, the interesting part was that the license plate on the car found in the bust traces back to Michael Santucci's father in law. Michael Santucci is the son of Art Santucci, executive director of external affairs for Lamberti. Neither Santucci could be reached.

A couple of curious parts in that police report: no contact information was listed for a witness who was found in the car and the report states that the vehicle was released to the owner, but doesn't state who the owner was.

Art Santucci is among those who are under investigation but his job status remains the same, said BSO spokesman Jim Leljedal who declined to list all the BSO employees who are a part of that investigation.

"It would include people that were there, people listed in the police report and anyone else who was allegedly involved,'' Leljedal said.

 Lamberti, who declined to comment through Leljedal Monday, has known about the Santucci connection to the drug bust for at least several months, but he didn't launch the investigation until The Daily Pulp, a New Times blog, wrote about it.

Lamberti is also losing a trusted advisor. Col. Edward Werder, who oversees law enforcement, is retiring next month to "take care of some personal matters and to take care of his family" but that's unrelated to Rothstein and he is not the subject of any investigation, Leljedal said. Werder has worked for the agency off and on since the 1960s and Lamberti brought him on in his current role when he was appointed in 2007.

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