One year after he was fired as a Boynton Beach Police sergeant for porn on his work computer, Frank Ranzie won his job back when an arbitrator decided a flawed internal affairs investigation and public pressure were to blame.
The veteran cop wasn’t back on the force for long. He announced his retirement after just one day on the job, and walked away with a pension larger than his yearly salary and his name restored — at least on paper.
The 50-year-old now gets a monthly pension of $9,421 for life, which because of added overtime, is $113,052 a year, more than his $91,450 yearly salary. The same pension would be due a spouse who might outlive Ranzie.
Ranzie’s union attorney Gary Lippman said his client’s reputation was “destroyed” in a “conscious and deliberate” way.
As for Ranzie’s quick retirement, he said: “Not to substitute what might be his words, but the only thing I could offer you is that if somebody points a gun at me and pulls the trigger and misfires, I’m not going to give them the chance to fire again and I think that’s pretty much the thought process that Sgt. Ranzie had as the result of a particularly bitter experience.”
The Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association filed a grievance on behalf of Ranzie on May 29, 2013, just days after the city fired the former sergeant. Arbitrator Anthony Redwood of Naples determined in May 2014 that Ranzie deserved to be reinstated. He called City Manager Lori LaVerriere’s actions “egregious” and said former Police Chief Matt Immler threw Ranzie “under the proverbial bus.”
Ranzie was reinstated June 18, one day before he emailed his retirement request to Chief Jeffrey Katz, records show.
Immler didn’t return a request for comment Wednesday.
LaVerriere declined to comment on Ranzie’s retirement, but did comment on the arbitration report.
“Any opportunity we have to glean information out of those reports to improve our processes we certainly will take the opportunity to do that,” she said. “I was disappointed in the findings. Nevertheless they are binding, and Sgt. Ranzie was reinstated and then subsequently retired two days later. We wish him the best.”
Ranzie joined the department in 1988. He spent time in bike patrol, internal affairs, tactical street crimes, road patrol and the detective division. He was a union representative for six years and served on the Police Pension Board. His claim to fame was in August 2009 when he and other police officers arrested Dalia Dippolito after investigators said she offered to pay an undercover detective posing as a hit man to kill her husband.
Ranzie’s troubles started in August 2012. He brought his work laptop to the police department’s technical services after his son told him he was looking at porn online and the laptop had a virus. An initial assessment showed possible child porn, but by Oct. 4, 2012, investigators determined the porn involved adults only.
By November 2012, Ranzie was put on administrative leave with pay while the internal affairs department investigated. It found Ranzie guilty of conduct unbecoming a city employee or police officer, violating rules on maintenance of property and neglect of duty.
While Ranzie said it was his son who looked at the porn, former police Maj. Frank Briganti said Ranzie said he saw adult images but he didn’t look at child porn.
Immler recommended to LaVerriere she fire Ranzie, and on May 15, 2013, LaVerriere issued Ranzie a termination letter. “I find there are several contradictions in your remarks,” LaVerriere wrote in the letter.
Despite the firing, Ranzie was still due his pension.
In the arbitrator’s report, Redwood blasted Immler, LaVerriere and the internal affairs investigation. He said there was no effort made to match times and places of the visits to the porn websites with where Ranzie was and no one questioned the results of the investigation. He called the investigation “fatally flawed” and said it had incorrect information that 5,733 porn sites were visited when really 23 websites were visited and six of them were porn sites, the arbitrator wrote.
Redwood said public perception likely weighed on Immler’s decision to fire him. He said LaVerriere had the chance to “restore the balance and objectivity” by interviewing Ranzie’s son, but she didn’t.
LaVerriere told The Post that his son wasn’t willing to give a signed statement as a witness and that was enough for her to hear.
“I was able to draw my conclusion as a result of listening to all of the evidence that I didn’t feel it was necessary to make contact with him,” she said.
Redwood said Ranzie could have received far less punishment for violating the department’s property rule in allowing his family to use the laptop. He ordered Ranzie be restored to his former position and “made whole as if this termination had never occurred,” the report says.
“To discharge a long-serving and competent officer to appease public perceptions that were based on rumors and false information can only be described as arbitrary and capricious,” the arbitrator wrote. “Sgt. Ranzie has paid a high price this past 20 months, with regards to his personal reputation and self-respect, as well as loss of income, both past and future, due to diminished career prospects.”