By John Pacenti

Former Delray Beach Fire Chief Keith Tomey is gone but the drama is not.

12703292300?profile=RESIZE_400xIn his whistleblower lawsuit against the city filed on June 25 over his dismissal, Tomey includes a 2022 text message exchange between himself and Delray Beach City Attorney Lynn Gelin in which she disparages City Manager Terrence Moore.

Tomey was fired May 1, one day after an investigation found no evidence to support his accusation that Moore inappropriately touched and groped him. He claims in the lawsuit the firing was retaliation for making a formal complaint against Moore.

The text exchange included in the lawsuit allegedly occurred Oct. 18, 2022. Tomey told Gelin that Moore had repeated his request to demote Craig Mahoney or get him to step down. Tomey had recently promoted Mahoney – the president of IAFF Local 1842, the firefighter’s union – to division chief of logistics without telling Moore first.

In the text exchange, Gelin said if Tomey did what Moore was asking, Mahoney would sue for retaliation. “It’s a stupid argument that reflects poorly on Terrence."

Tomey had said he felt pressure to demote Mahoney because Moore was his boss.

“And stop referring to him as your boss, Lol,” Gelin said in the same text, court documents show. “He’s your boss in title and nothing else. Every time he opens his mouth he confirms how incompetent he is.”

Screenshots of the text exchange are included as an exhibit in the lawsuit.

When asked if the city, Gelin, or Moore would comment on the lawsuit or the text exchange cited, spokesperson Gina Carter said as a policy Delray Beach does not comment on pending litigation.

Tomey was fired for his decision to allow on-duty firefighters to participate in the annual Guns and Hoses softball game in November, compromising the city’s readiness, according to Moore's termination letter to him. An on-duty firefighter was injured in the game and filed a workers compensation claim.

“I believe residents will find there is ample support for Mr. Tomey’s termination,” said City Commissioner Juli Casale. “It is unfortunate that a random text sent out of frustration is being used to bolster a claim that has already been found to be meritless by an outside investigator.”

Tomey was hired in 2016 and named chief in April 2020. Moore became city manager in August 2021 and Gelin has been the city’s top attorney since 2018.

The city employed an outside law firm to investigate Tomey’s sexual harassment complaint, finding there was no evidence to support the claim.

Tomey’s attorney, Isidro M. Garcia, said Gelin’s texts “speak for themselves.”

“There is some disconnect there between the City Manager’s Office and the City’s Attorney's Office, especially when it comes to the Mahoney thing,” Garcia said.

There have been other incidents as well.  

Tomey received a traffic ticket on June 17, 2023 from the Florida Highway Patrol on the Florida Turnpike for unknowingly driving on a suspended license, according to court records. At the time, Tomey often drove city-owned vehicles.

The lawsuit also revisits Tomey’s five-day suspension for not promptly reporting an Oct. 26, 2022 fender-bender on Interstate 95. While on paid leave as the city investigated the incident, Tomey suffered a stress-induced atrial fibrillation which resulted in a hospital stay, according to the lawsuit.

Tomey was denied workers’ compensation and sued the city and won, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims the firing violated the state’s Whistleblower Act. Tomey reported Moore made sexual advances towards him on Aug. 3, 2022, as the two drove in Moore’s car to and from the Arts Garage. Tomey said Moore “rubbed up his thigh and just briefly made contact with his groin area.”

Tomey claimed in the lawsuit that Gelin was dismissive of his report of sexual harassment, which he first mentioned to her in August 2022. “As long as he doesn't rub anyone's knees I’m cool,” she allegedly said in a text from that time that is included as an exhibit.

After the city received a letter on the incident from Garcia in March, the commission asked for an investigation.

You need to be a member of The Coastal Star to add comments!

Join The Coastal Star

Activity Feed

The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 9
The Coastal Star posted an event
Jul 8
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in HIGHLAND BEACH
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in ACROSS THE BRIDGE
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BEACH WATCH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a blog post
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in GULF STREAM
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
More…