Stephen Johnson’s “Very Bad Decision”

STRESSLess than forty eight hours ago, Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen E. Johnson was at the top of his game.  He had a great job, a beautiful wife, a family, and a brand new $548,000.00 home in Davie.

After leaving his position as the scandal-plagued City Manager for North Miami, Stephen Johnson finally got the chance to reinvent himself and get back into police work.

When the Miami Gardens Police Department had a vacancy for the top job after Chief Matthew Boyd retired, Johnson applied and got the position.  “He was hired last April as the Miami Gardens Police Chief at a time when city leaders wanted to improve the department’s image amid complaints against the department of racial profiling,” according to a report by the Sun-Sentinel.

Johnson got out of North Miami as fast as he could.  Given enough time and distance between him and his former city, he might have been able to finally shed his much deserved image as Andre Pierre’s henchman-slash-accomplice.  With his arrest Friday night in “a threeway sex-for-hire sting,” as USA Today so sleazily put it, Stephen Johnson’s reinvention came to a screeching halt.

Stephen Johnson moved up the ranks at the North Miami Police Department for a 25-year long career until he was promoted to interim Chief, and then permanent Chief, under former City Manager Russell Benford.  Two months into his position as the new Chief of Police, Stephen Johnson brought in three individuals from outside agencies for top positions.

Marc Elias, was recruited as Johnson’s Assistant Chief, despite Elias’ troubled past as the fired Florida City Chief of Police for allegations of sexual harassment.  No charges were ever filed.

Stephen Johnson also recruited Leonard Burgess as a Major, who had just retired as Deputy Director of the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department.  Burgess briefly served as Interim Director until Timothy P. Ryan was hired as Director of the Department.  Ryan was brought in from the Santa Clara County Department of Correction in San Jose, California, where he had served as chief of correction.

As reported on November 9, 2006 by Miami Today, Mr. Ryan was expected to “take over from interim director Leonard Burgess on Dec. 4.  Mr. Ryan, 58, inherits a $290 million budget, 2,500 employees and an organization that has been wracked by squabble and scandal.  County Manager George Burgess, who picked Mr. Ryan for the job, says he expects him to reform and rebuild the department.”

The County Manager apparently needed outside help to clean up the mess created by those already inside the Department.

Obviously, Interim Director Leonard Burgess was not that person.

Johnson’s third recruit was former City of Miami Lieutenant Franzia Brea-Burden, who was hired at NMPD as a Commander.

In 2011, City Manager Russell Benford resigned from his position and was replaced by Police Chief Stephen Johnson to serve as Interim City Manager and eventually, as permanent City Manager.

Even though there are five elected representatives on the dais, it’s commonly believed that then Mayor Andre Pierre was the driving force behind Johnson’s promotion.  After all, Andre did owe Johnson a favor or two.

Like the time the Chief ordered a few dozen police-style badges for Andre.

Or the time Johnson installed hidden cameras in the Mayor’s office at his request.

After all, under the North Miami Friends & Family Plan, no back goes unscratched.

Once Stephen Johnson was named permanent City Manager, he made sure to reward his very special proteges.

Johnson promoted Marc Elias to Chief of Police, Leonard Burgess to Assistant Chief, and Franzia Brea-Burden to Major, all the while bypassing many other highly qualified candidates.

Unfortunately, Marc Elias was eventually forced to resign … after being forced to chauffeur/provide security for then Mayor Lucie Tondreau, who was herself arrested three months later.

Johnson then gifted his buddy Lenny Burgess with the position of Chief.

We already know how well that’s  working out.

As for Johnson’s third recruit, Franzia Brea-Burden, whose dreams of becoming an Assistant Chief were thwarted when Burgess had to finally give Gary Eugene the promotion he was due, she’s still stuck at Major.

Oh, well.

At least she’ll be freed up this summer for another Jamaican vacay with Andre & Friends.

Stephen Johnson has fallen from grace in a most humiliating way.

Upon his release from jail early Saturday morning, he told reporters, “The stress overwhelmed me, and I made a very bad decision.”

Ya think?

Judging by the wreckage Stephen Johnson left behind at the top of the NMPD food chain, this was only one in a long line of “very bad decisions.”

Miami Gardens City Manager Cameron Benson wasted no time in firing Johnson.

In an eerily similar statement to the one recently made by North Bay Village Manager Frank Rollason when he fired his Chief of Police, Benson told the Miami Herald, “As manager I have the responsibility to hire and fire department heads. I didn’t have to go through anyone to do that.”

Likewise, North Miami City Manager Aleem Ghany does not need permission from the elected officials to make the same decision.

By virtue of his position, Mr. Ghany has the ultimate power to hire and fire the Chief of Police at will.

He also has the responsibility, as well as the unique opportunity, to rid North Miami of Stephen Johnson’s legacy of “very bad decisions” for once and for all.

Here’s hoping Aleem has what it takes to do the right thing.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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30 Comments

  1. Keystone Couple says:

    NMPD Choices For Chief

    Racist Juriga vs Incompetent Johnson
    Winner – Incompetent Johnson

    Racist Juriga vs Incompetent Elias
    Winner – Incompetent Elias

    Racist Juriga vs Whore Polictician Burgess
    Winner – Whore Politician Burgess

    Racist Juriga vs ????
    This shall be an easy one.
    Winner – Anyone BUT Racist Juriga

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    1. Parker says:

      Police officer Juriga also has the reputation of being Anti-Semitic.

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      1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

        So I’ve heard.

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      2. Will Rogers says:

        Juriga has a reputation for being anti-Semitic, racist, and discriminating against women. He plays himself off as a holy roller but he’s really just a white supremacist.

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        1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

          There’s an app for that.

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  2. KoLaw says:

    Geesh. Did Burgess break your heart or something? I would love to read your blogs without you mentioning Burgess in EVERY story. Give it a break.

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    1. Guest says:

      It’s her blog so she can write about a ham sandwich every day if she wants to.
      There’s a simple solution, if you don’t like the topic click that little mouse and read something else. Duh

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    2. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Burgess broke my heart the same way Myron did when he committed campaign finance fraud. He broke my heart the same way Miramar resident Yvenoline Dargenson did when she ran for office in NMB. He broke my heart the same way Frantz Pierre still does when he plays loose with taxpayer money and absentee ballots. Burgess broke my heart the same way Andre Pierre did by, well, being Andre (who, unlike Burgess, at least does it adorably and with style).

      If you think Burgess broke my heart by being a corrupt chief of police for protecting bad cops and lying to politicians to cover his own ass, by that definition you could technically be right.

      Once he started spreading lies and trying to discredit me with the North Miami city council, their employees, the media, and anyone else who would listen, Burgess made it personal.

      Therefore, I am doing what I do best.

      KoLaw, you are obviously not familiar with what I do. When I suspect corruption I go after it with a vengeance. I sniff it out, I dig up dirt, I hunt it down, I do a little victory dance and blog my heart out to anyone who cares to read it.

      As the character Jake Blues, of Blues Brothers fame so famously said, “I’m on a mission from God.”

      Right now, so am I.

      If you don’t want to read about Burgess in EVERY story, there’s a list of a dozen bloggers over there on the right you can read who are NOT writing about corruption in the NMPD. Click any one of them to read about something else.

      There’s also a shit ton of other articles and blogs you could be reading if you really want to expand your horizons. Is anyone stopping you from going there?

      In the meantime, I’ll give up when North Miami residents have had enough corruption and run the corruptocrats out of town.

      Starting with Leonard Burgess.

      So, sorry to disappoint you. Burgess did not break my heart. Only a real man could possibly have the power to do that.

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  3. Ellen says:

    Unlike former North Miami Chief of Police/City Manager Stephen Johnson, and present Chief of Police Leonard Burgess, Aleem Ghany is a man of unquestioned honesty and character who has earned the respect of the community and those who work under him. Mr. Ghany, as City Manager, has the authority to remove Chief Burgess. It’s time to clean up the North Miami police department.
    The residents of North Miami DESERVE a Chief of Police with a reputation of unquestioned honesty and character. Assistant Chief of Police Gary Eugene, a Haitian American, has been a police officer for over 30 years. “Gary holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Florida International University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies from Barry University, and an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Miami-Dade College. He is also a graduate of the prestigious Southern Police Institute (S.P.I.) in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Senior Management Institute for Police Executives (S.M.I.P.) at Harvard’s Kennedy School.” ttp://www.northmiamipolice.com/about_nmpd/command_staff/eugene_gary.asp
    I urge residents of North Miami to voice their opinions by contacting their council members and the city manager.
    City Manager Aleem Ghany:
    aghany@northmiamifl.gov
    Mayor Smith Joseph:
    sjoseph@northmiamifl.gov
    Councilman Scott Galvin—District 1:
    scott@scott-galvin.com
    Councilwoman Carol Keys—District 2:
    ckeys@northmiamifl.gov
    Councilman Philippe Bien-Aime—District 3:
    Pbien-aime@northmiamifl.gov
    Councilwoman Marie Steril—District 4:
    msteril@northmiamifl.gov

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  4. Retired NMPD says:

    Stephanie, I think you give Burgess too much credit. He is the most indecisive person ever. He can’t make a decision whether to use “paper or Plastic” at Publix. In regards to Ofc. Antoine, i would bet that he didnt make that decision alone. You give the City Manager a pass, but he could have made a decision to fire that Officer. It was also Ghany’s decision to make Burgess permanent Chief. He continued a cycle that Former Chief Johnson started. Johnson decided to bring people from the outside into command ranks at the police department. Now that wouldn’t have been a bad thing, if he brought in folks that were qualified and had something to offer. But he didnt. He bypassed officers that have served the City for decades, officers who have gone up the ranks, officers who are VERY qualified. He did this and brought in a bunch of subpar people. Men like Marc Elias (who has never passed a promotional exam in his career, EVER), men like Burgess, who talks in riddles and rambles on with no clue. Just to mention a few. Promote people who have served the City, people who made this City their career. Stop promoting people who come here to get a second pension. Im just saying

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Yeah, Burgess is an idiot. But I’m having way too much fun to stop now.

      You are right, though. Aleem does need to grow a pair already. Unfortunately, his indecision might be his own undoing.

      Just saying.

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  5. Lawdog says:

    Keystone Couple are on the money with Juriga. That guy never did a thing in his entire career and only got promoted because he was in with a clique that took care of their own. That guy pulls out his white robe and pointy hat and wears it around the house while he sits on his recliner with the remote in one hand and the other hand down his pants.

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  6. Ellen says:

    Just because somebody has, “served the City for decades, officers who have gone up the ranks,” does not mean they are the best choice to lead the North Miami department. Juriga has been around for years and he would be a horrendous choice. Experience in other departments is experience, plane and simple.

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  7. John James says:

    This is exactly what happens to a police department when police chiefs are hired based on race, gender, ethnicity or political affiliations. Affirmative action is a disaster. By promoting individuals based on looks and braun rather than education, intelligence or experience sinks government into chaos. Neither Boyd, Burgess or this latest prostitute entertainer was qualified for the job. They all were African Americans though so in the eyes of the mayor that made them “qualified” for hire.

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    1. Gwen Boyd says:

      Mr. John James, you are so totally uninformed or just don’t give a dam about spreading lies on people you don’t even know. Before you start making derogatory comments about people, you best do your homework before you get hit with a defamation of character.

      Just to “educate” you, I wouldn’t have been hired by Lee Feldman if I was not qualified for the job. Not only that, I was “the most qualified” candidate for the job and that is why Mr. Feldman selected me. I did not know Mr. Feldman and he didn’t know me. He selected me based on my extensive police experience and my track record of performance. Policing is not just a job, it is my passion. I put my heart into “serving, protecting and educating” families and the community. So, I do not appreciate your offensive comment. If you want to know anything about me, I’m in the newspapers, magazines, and I live near you so I can’t hide. I implemented programs in the police department, like National Night Out Against Crime, Annual Fact Festival, School Resource Officers, Gang Unit and established a Grant Unit that enabled us to respond to the community’s needs more effectively. I got into this profession by happenstance and it has always and will always be my greatest passion. So, when you want to criticize someone, just do your homework first so you won’t end up looking foolish. Take some tips from Stephanie!! Have a great day!

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  8. KoLaw says:

    Nobody will make you people happy.

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Have a ham sandwich, “Larry.”

      Or are you one of the Darryls?

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      1. Will Rogers says:

        It’s definitely pointy hat Larry.

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        1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

          Oh, shit. You people are killing me. I’m LMAO when I should be vacuuming.

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  9. Just sayin says:

    Juriga will make an exception if you’re part of the “Boys that Shower Together Team”. Aka the SWAT Team. Then it’s ok if you’re not the right color aka the white color.

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  10. FYI says:

    as a former law enforcement officer its a misdemeanor to publish his address

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      For one thing, he’s not a cop anymore. For another, the Deed is a public record. However, in the interest of not pissing anyone else off, I redacted the address. Happy now?

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  11. Mayor Smith Joseph Just Lost My Vote says:

    Mayor Smith Joseph just lost my vote.

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Why is that?

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  12. David says:

    You have the ear of the public.

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  13. MDPDHISTORYLESSON says:

    WHO LOVES HISTORY?

    A MUST READ BELOW, POLICINGMIAMIDADE.BLOGSPOT.COM

    http://policingmiamidade.blogspot.com/2008/05/if-not-now-when.html

    September 3, 2008 at 7:52 PM
    LVQT said…
    Is it true the Chief Lenny Burgess is part of the complaint made by “Major” Carmen Pichardo for sexual harassment? It’s not just Major Don Rifkin,is it? Are they relieved of duty?

    September 4, 2008 at 1:10 PM
    LVQT said…
    Is it true that “Chief” Lenny Burgess is relieved of duty as well as “Major” Don Rifkin for sexually harassing “Major” Carmen Pichardo? Sounds like a soap opera. I heard Carlito was not going to help Carmen this time. It was nice seeing her father’s, Fulgencia Castro, picture on the Miami Herald website…not favor paybacks there. Also, “Chief” Frank Vecin on the front page of the local section with Carlito. Keep studying for captain all of you lieutenants! They appreciate the effort. You’ll need all that knowledge to make major or chief or AD or director…

    September 4, 2008 at 1:14 PM
    fed-up said…
    How long can the Police Departemt continue to cover-up what is going on with Carmen and the boys. Please do not tell me that FDLE who is involved is also protectiong the Department. Where can one go to expose what is going on certainly not PCB. This really has me concerned. If it was an officer who’s wife accused him of hitting her it would be all over the media with media relations providing a press release. Why does’t the media expose the fact that it was Carlos who promoted Carmen after her father assisted in his election. It is obvious that the city of Miami Chief does not have the support from the media over his Lexus. But then again they have a union who fights for its employees

    AND ALSO A MUST READ, LEOAFFAIRS.COM

    http://www.leoaffairs.com/vb_forums/archive/index.php/t-137480.html

    It’s time to expose one of the alleged henchman for the two clowns (Armando and Carlos) who apparently wrote the below statement:

    Idiots, Lenny Burges is a two star Chief with Miami-Dade Police. Why don’t you take a little walk outside your bubble and learn a little before you go assuming that the County Manager is the only person with that last name. Oh yeah, Lenny is Black and Hispanic and has been with the County well over 20-years. He was recently tapped to go to the jails to clean that system up. You fools are laughable.

    The anonymous writer who wrote the above is assigned to the Administration Division and works for Chief Burden. The information provided above is inaccurate. For starters the Former Miami-Dade Chief name was misspelled it’s “Burgess” and he accepted a job somewhere else and has his own issues just Google his name. Second, both Mayoral candidates have publicly stated that the choice will come from in-house. Finally, the Wiesel that posted the above garbage on behalf of “clowns and company” used to work for FHP before joining MPD that’s how he got the name “Deleon” and the name “Lenny Burgess” he got from this site where he is pictured on page 8, view the following: Google- Docket Summer 05-01 and go to page 8. The site is for Alpha Phi Sigma class of 2005.

    “Idiot” you have been EXPOSED and your laughable and pathetic. Stay off leoaffairs and stop politicking for Burden, Armando, Carlos and the other clowns.

    Don’t throw stones at others (Chief Timoney) when you definitely don’t live in a glass house. Lt. KERR CONTINUE WITH YOUR HARD WORK AND IMPEACH THESE TWO CLOWNS. Chief Timoney and Deputy Chief Frank Fernandez have true foot soldiers on their team. 👿 :devil: 👿 :devil: 👿

    Put down the crack pipe. t$ and BK are history. Which ever brown nose underling you are, the ride is over. see ya 😈

    WoW! Enrique Chavez is so busted. I wonder if Franzia knows he doesn’t back her husband? I guess its back to patrol then for you!
    06-25-2009, 02:31 PM
    This is all crap. First off, Vega is already the Police Chief in Camden, New Jersey, and he is loving it. Second, both Sanchez and Regalado have their eye on the next police chief and it is neither Burden nor the BK. This is just another post by Utset or Calzadilla to get you all talking so that the rumors can sink Burden’s chances. You forget that the Bk is lobbying Sanchez to get rid of T-money and make him Chief. The funny part is the actual person that Regalado is looking at is Burges (Black-Hispanic) from the County. Sanchez is looking at De Leon from FHP where Sanchez was a Trooper. Let’s face it, the new Chief is coming from outside so you can stop eating your young.

    Enrique Chavez, you have been busted!!!!!! If you google “Alpha Phi Sigma Docket Summer 05-01” and you go to page 8, you will find photos of the good Chief leonard Burgess with Officer Chavez. You also need to know that Chavez came from FHP, so he would know that there is a ranking Trooper by the name of De Leon.

    Chavez, you will never be accused of being very bright. WOOOOOW!!!!!!
    06-25-2009, 02:58 PM
    Hey Chavez, it appears that Chief Burgess suffers the same malady as a certain Asst. Chief in our department. He is being investigated and sued for sexually harassing a female major on their department (Pichardo).

    Yeah, I think he fits right in with our department.

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  14. Lets be all we can be says:

    I have no horse in this race and no opinion other than wanting a Chief who respects women and therefore puts in place policies which mean his/her officers respect women (and gets rid of or demotes those who would be proven to not by internal investigations).

    And I want a Chief, whoever it is, to gets task forces out there to make it a priority women and girls are safe in our city. (The last I saw sexual assault crimes were up in North Miami, I saw that listed somewhere, Steph you would know better, but regardless it is something that should be addressed as general North Miami crime is higher than US average and just below Miami according to this chart)*

    If there is not a basic respect for women in someone’s day to day life, there cannot be true fighting for women’s rights – which means the rights to be safe on our streets and in homes.

    And men and children should feel safe too. I am not expert but here found this on Google. North Miami only safer than 6 percent of cities. And I thank the fine officers in our city, I firmly believe the majority are great officers but they must have a leader who is too and the culture of the dept must support EXCELLENCE and respect and trickle down from there. So let this Chief do his job right or get someone who does and supports the best we can be.
    http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/fl/north-miami/crime/
    older rates:
    http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-North-Miami-Florida.html

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      The Neighborhood Scout data is really telling. That North Miami is only safer than “6% of cities in the U.S.” means that 94% of cities in this country are safer than North Miami.

      As for your “wanting a Chief who respects women and therefore puts in place policies which mean his/her officers respect women,” you are not alone. The policies, however, are already in place. It’s up to the Chief of Police to implement those polices and mete out proper discipline when those policies are violated.

      ‘Nuff said.

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  15. Ellen says:

    North Miami is only 6% safer than other cities in the US. In other words, 94% of cities in the US are SAFER THAN NORTH MIAMI. If for no other reason, that’s enough to scream that we NEED a new chief of police. Contact your city officials and tell them we DESERVE better!!!

    http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/fl/north-miami/crime/

    RIME INDEX
    6
    (100 is safest)
    Safer than 6% of
    the cities
    in the US.

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  16. […] Stephen Johnson might be everyone’s favorite whipping boy for lots of reasons.  The most glaring of which was his law enforcement career-ending “very bad decision.” […]

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