The Sun Sentinel by Brittany Wallman - August 3, 2011
A Broward Sheriff's Office jail deputy is accused of inappropriate behavior toward female inmates, in a case with claims of topless, dancing inmates, an "orgy''-like atmosphere and a text-messaged photo of a penis alongside a toothbrush.
Deputy Mason Chibnick was found to have violated the code of ethics, failed to use good judgment and engaged in conduct unbecoming of a BSO employee. He was given a counseling slip advising him of the policies, and he was transferred to an all-male jail on his own request, public records say. Chibnick didn't respond to a request for comment, but he denied any inappropriate contact or behavior in a sworn BSO statement, telling investigators that "if he were to return to his assignment with the female inmates, he would not do anything differently.'' Among the allegations made by inmates or colleagues at Paul Rein Detention Facility in Pompano: that he passed greetings to inmates via a colleague, watched inmates perform sex acts on each other, tracked an inmate down on Facebook after she was released, text-messaged a photo of his penis alongside a toothbrush to the sister of one former inmate, entered a closet with a female inmate, sat on an inmate's bunk bed, claimed inmates were "all over'' him after he lost 50 pounds and allowed a permissive, "wild'' atmosphere when he was in charge. Inmates said they regularly played Truth or Dare when he was on duty. "During the course of this investigations, inmates and deputies described inappropriate conversations and contact that they witnessed Deputy Chibnick engaging in with female inmates,'' the investigative summary says. Five of his BSO colleagues gave statements to investigators about behavior they saw or had heard about that concerned them, the file shows. And six inmates gave statements, including two who defended him. Deputy Vanessa Schinelli told investigators about an inmate's claim that Chibnick tracked inmates down on Facebook after their release, sent a picture of his private parts to the inmate's sister's cell phone and had sex with an inmate. The inmate, when questioned, said he didn't make sexual advances but that he did contact her and sent a photo of his penis. Investigators asked why she thought the photo depicted Chibnick's private parts, and she answered: "Why would he send a picture of someone else's?" Chibnick asked in April to be reassigned because he didn't feel "comfortable'' working with female inmates anymore and valued his career, with "nearly 10 years of solid work history." He also voluntarily closed his Facebook page, but declined to give investigators his cell phone records, the investigative file says. He is now working in the Joseph V. Conte Facility in Pompano Beach. His attorney, Lewis Fishman, said he views it "as a minor closed case'' and said BSO doesn't consider counseling to be "discipline." Chibnick's union representative defended him Wednesday, saying the accusations were not supported by evidence, and that a woman's jail can be trouble for some deputies.