Keys ME might be DOA

Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Beaver
Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Beaver

Monroe County’s medical examiner will get a chance May 10 to make his case for being reappointed — but supporters may be few.

A recent assessment for Dr. Thomas Beaver submitted by three Florida Keys law-enforcement agencies, the Monroe County Commission and one Key Largo funeral home all gave Beaver a “non-favorable” rating on his pending contract renewal.

Beaver did not receive a single “favorable” rating from the 10 local agencies and funeral homes asked to comment. Three funeral homes and two agencies did not respond.

“Dr. Beaver’s relationship with the Sheriff’s Office has been abysmal,” Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said Tuesday. “There have been yelling and screaming matches with our detectives, our staff and me.”

A recent meeting of Florida Keys agency representatives voiced similar concerns, Ramsay said.

“All of them expressed concerns,” the sheriff said. “Literally every day, there are accounts of [Beaver’s] anger-management problems, how people are treated and stuff not getting done.”

Other law agencies filing “non-favorable” reports on Beaver’s office include the Key West Police Department and the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office. “Some of what the sheriff reported disturbed me,” State Attorney Dennis Ward said.

At one point, Beaver acknowledged transporting a body in the back of an open-bed pickup truck.

The Medical Examiners Commission, organized under the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, holds a meeting at 10 a.m. today at the Hyatt Place Faro Blanco Marine Resort & Yacht Club, 1996 Overseas Highway bayside in Marathon, to review assessments on six South Florida medical examiners, including Beaver.

“The sheriff has been really opposed to the Medical Examiner’s Office for a number of years,” Beaver said Tuesday. “The commissioners will hear from the sheriff and some others, and they will hear from me. I’m pretty confident they’ll make a reasonable decision that’s not based on hearsay.”

None of the other five examiners — covering Palm Beach, Collier, Broward and Martin counties — received any “non-favorable” rankings from law enforcement for renewal.

The Medical Examiners Commission will decide whether to recommend to Gov. Rick Scott reappointment of the examiners Rick Scott. Individual counties then negotiate their own three-year contracts for the operation of local medical examiner offices.

Currently, Monroe County allocates $715,402 to support operations of the District 16 Medical Examiner’s Office in Monroe County. Beaver gets to decide how the money is spent.

In May 2016, authors of an audit requested by the Monroe County Commission said the report medical examiner suffered from a “lack of cooperation” by Beaver. The auditors recommended the contract between Monroe County and the Medical Examiner’s Office be rewritten to give the County Commission more oversight of the top coroner’s finances and operating budget.

Beaver responded that the audit report was “riddled with errors, misstatements, and mischaracterizations... The Medical examiner has properly applied every penny to pay the expenses and salaries of the individuals operating the Medical Examiner’s Office.”

Hired by Monroe County in June 2014 to fill an unexpired term, Beaver received a two-year renewal in 2015. The current contract expires in July.

Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206