Bal Harbour police chief fired amidst federal investigation
BAL HARBOUR, Fla. (WSVN) -- The police chief of Bal Harbour was fired from the force Friday following an ongoing federal investigation that alleges the longtime law enforcer mismanaged millions of dollars in seized drug money.
"My whole career, I got involved in things because I thought it was the right thing to do," said Thomas Hunker, who has served in South Florida law enforcement for 41 years.
Since December, Hunker has been on paid administrative leave after the U.S. Justice Department received a list of allegations against the former chief. The accusation that made headlines is that $7 million of drug money was misspent on overtime and lavish travel for Bal Harbour police officers.
Hunker vehemently denied the accusation. "Absolutely not true. If you look at the $7 million, other than overtime, which is $200,000, maybe $250,000 a year, which is very low for six people working in a task force, the majority of that money has been spent on training and improvements to the department, non-budget police items that we extremely needed," he said.
Richard Sharpstein, Hunker's attorney, said there is no criminal investigation. "He is not a criminal, he is a dedicated police officer, and he should not be asked to leave the city with his tail between his legs," he indicated.
Hunker said he misses serving the residents of Bal Harbour. "I miss law enforcement," he said as his eyes welled up with tears.
The former chief said that what frustrates him is that the person who sought the involvement of federal agents remains a mystery. "It's been 40 years, and the thing that bothers me is that I don't get to face my accuser."
Hunker does not leave the Village of Bal Harbour empty-handed. He has been given a severance package. He said he plans to take a couple of months off and leaves the option open to return to law enforcement.
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