Man beaten by Broward Sheriff’s Office accuses them of Anti-Semitism
A wealthy businessman active in Jewish philanthropy and Israeli sports says he was beaten up by `anti-Semitic’ BSO deputies after he was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana
(MIAMI HERALD) A wealthy Fort Lauderdale businessman’s allegations that he was beaten up by Broward sheriff’s deputies is grabbing headlines in Israel, where he recently made a splash in the sports and philanthropic worlds.
But a Broward Sheriff’s Office spokesman said the man’s accusations are “ludicrous” attacks on the law enforcement agency’s reputation with no basis in fact.
Guma Aguiar, 32, has told several Israeli newspapers that BSO deputies brutalized him after arresting him in June after a traffic stop.
He told The Sun Sentinel on Monday that the deputies made “numerous anti-Semitic remarks,” but he refused to repeat them.
“It’s so outrageous that the Broward Sheriff’s Office should be shaking in their pants,” he said.
“The abuse that took place in the holding cell will never be forgotten. There are a few people who deserve to spend a long time in jail.”
Aguiar became a fixture on Israeli sports pages this summer when he became the main sponsor of the Israeli Premier League soccer team Beitar Jerusalem, infusing the popular franchise with $4 million.
In addition, Aguiar has given millions to Israeli and Jewish charities in the past few years, including an $8 million gift to Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that helps Jews immigrate to Israel.
Aguiar, who made his fortune in the oil and gas business, told the newspaper Yediot Ahronot that Broward deputies broke his fingers, punched him and left him looking like he had been in a cage match with boxers Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. In another Israeli daily, Haaretz, he is quoted as saying, “There’s no doubt it was anti-Semitism.”
He suggested to Yediot Ahronot that he was set up — possibly because of a tangle of high-stakes litigation he is involved in with his uncle, Thomas Kaplan, over the sale of the energy company the family founded.
Harley Tropin, Kaplan’s attorney, said the idea that his client was involved in the arrest is “ridiculous.”
BSO reports tell a markedly different story from Aguiar’s.
On June 19, Aguiar was pulled over in his 2009 Bentley after a deputy saw him repeatedly drift across the double-yellow center line on North Dixie Highway in Oakland Park, according to the arrest report.
When stopped, Aguiar got out of his car and said, “Call my lawyer, I’m going to jail,” the report states.
Aguiar admitted he was smoking marijuana, the car smelled of the illegal substance and the deputy found five grams of the drug as well as pipes stashed inside, according to the arrest report.
Once he was brought to Broward County Jail, Aguiar threatened other inmates and reportedly said, “I have money and could buy you, Mr. Deputy,” according to an internal BSO memo.
The memo said Aguiar tried to head-butt a deputy and repeatedly resisted jail staffers.
He was treated by the medical staff for bruises to his head and elbow and redness to his wrists, the memo states.
Deputies took photos of the injuries, but they have been misplaced, the memo states.
“He was stopped because of his driving,” said BSO spokesman Jim Leljedal. “He was arrested because of the marijuana and paraphernalia. He was restrained because of his behavior.”
Aguiar bonded out of jail the next morning and now faces two misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He also was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge, but prosecutors dismissed it after concluding there was not enough evidence to prove it, said Ron Ishoy, a spokesman for the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
Leljedal said Aguiar had not filed a complaint with BSO about how he was treated in jail. But the businessman said that means nothing, and vowed that BSO “will be exposed.”
“We got a whole file we’re building, and the anti-Semites who did what they did will pay,” Aguiar said