By Brittany Wallman
7:16 AM PST, December 14, 2012
A sheriff's office employee whose relationship with Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein dogged Sheriff Al Lamberti has resigned.
Undersheriff Tom Wheeler "announced that he will be retiring,'' spokesman Jim Leljedal told us, right before he, too, announced his retirement.
"You take a high position where you serve at the pleasure,'' Wheeler said Friday. "It's just the right thing to do. There's just no question in my mind. As the sheriff-elect, he has the right and I think he wants his people around him and I respect that.''
Wheeler didn't say where he's going next. He has 32 years in law enforcement and five years at Broward Sheriff's Office.
"There's a new day,'' he said. "There's new adventures and the sun will come up tomorrow.''The top cops are dropping out of the agency one by one, before a new sheriff comes on board.
Sheriff-elect Scott Israel takes office Jan. 8, after a swearing-in at the Sunrise Musical Theatre.
Wheeler's presence on staff and the lack of investigation into his dealings with Rothstein plagued Lamberti throughout the campaign. Negative mailers attacked him over it, and over Lt. David Benjamin, who has been under investigation at BSO for years.
Click here for a memory refresher on Wheeler and Rothstein.
Wheeler said Friday that he never was close friends with Rothstein, who was a philanthropist and head of a huge law firm at the time.
Wheeler went on at least two jet trips with Rothstein, we previously reported. He said Friday that he was just part of large groups on those trips.
He also said he never went on a golfing trip to Ireland with Rothstein, as had been alleged. He did go on a trip to Ireland, he said, but not with Rothstein.
"I've never been to Europe with him,'' Wheeler said.The Charlie-Crist-frat-brother was always defended by Lamberti, who said he thought people were being "unfair'' to him.
As we all now know, Rothstein wasn't just the head of a law firm and big spender and political contributor. He was running a gigantic Ponzi scheme.
Though people who were paying attention were openly questioning the true source of Rothstein's funds, law enforcement officials were his pals, including Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley, who traveled by jet to a New York Jets-Miami Dolphins game in December 2008 with Rothstein, paid for by Rothstein friend and jet-owner Ted Morse.
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