Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Florida Department of Law EnForcement Cover-up

The Governor forwarded my petition to State Attorney Jim Appleman and FDLE Commissioner Tunnell. The Governor did his job and I appreciate his help. Appleman is retiring. The state attorney was also at the retirement party for former Holmes County Chief Deputy. So, it’s up to FDLE Commissioner Tunnell. Will he do the right thing or will he continue FDLE’s cover-up? For that matter, what really concerns them? Is it the illegal electronic surveillance, harassment, official misconduct, FDLE helicopter incident, threatening witnesses, or what? Yes, it's all those things, but there's something more and it’s that something more that is why they're going all out.

I mailed a certified letter to FL Attorney General Crist on April 21 charging then Executive Investigations Director Jamie McLaughlin and others with official misconduct. FDLE IA began an investigation on McLaughlin on April 22 based on an anonymous tip. McLaughlin resigned suddenly and unexpectedly on April 23, coincidentally the same day USPS confirmed delivery of my letter to Crist.

The FDLE GC Mike Ramage’s office mailed me a copy of Executive Investigation’s internal investigative report on its former Director in response to my Public Records Request. The report revealed that the dates covered by the investigation are from Oct. 1999 to April 22, 2004. However, FDLE GC Ramage and Assistant Director Richard Lober (The new Chief Inspector of Executive Investigations) advised Special Agent Pritt and Chief Metz on April 22, 2004 of the receipt by Lober from an anonymous source of an allegation of potential sexual harassment by the Director. After being briefed by Lober on the actions taken after receiving the complaint (remember this was on April 22, the day after I mailed my letter to the AG), Pritt and Metaz conducted a preliminary fact-finding inquiry into an ongoing course of conduct “that could be considered a type of Sexual Harassment.” They used Oct. 1999 as the start date of their investigation because that’s when the Director and another EI employee began their consensual affair and April 22, 2004 as the investigation’s end date. So FDLE began their investigation the same day Lober receives an anonymous allegation and McLaughlin resigns the next day, which is the day the USPS verified that the Attorney General received my complaint. Coincidental? Why go after the Director now? Or could it be that possibly this anonymous allegation and sudden resignation served as a cover story for McLaughlin’s role in the cover-up that I describe in my petition? For that matter, why not investigate my charges? They’re at least as serious as some anonymous source’s allegation of potential sexual harassment.

Another issue is that there’s been an inordinate number of drug arrests over the past year here in Holmes County resulting in a very low conviction rate. I suspect that the reason for all the drug arrests is that it is a manufactured problem orchestrated by the FDLE to rehabilitate the Sheriff’s image and serve as a cover if I ever went public with the following. The Sheriff’s well publicized crackdown on drugs began about 2 weeks after I faxed someone that that FDLE offered my neighbor a deal if she’d implicate the Sheriff in her drug dealing. This was the first of two deals that the FDLE offered her and she declined it, preferring to do the time if necessary. The FDLE was in the awkward position of trying to nail the Sheriff on drugs while having to cooperate with him to cover up their involvement in the illegal surveillance and harassment. Apparently, there’s more flexibility in the so-called “war on drugs” than the FDLE would admit.

I don’t know if the Sheriff was involved or not in drug dealing, but the FDLE had some reason to think that he was. The meth problem is no worse in Holmes Country than in any other rural county. The FDLE wanted to create a problem to offer a solution. So the Sheriff made a lot of questionable arrests, resulting in a low conviction rate. They needed numbers in order to justify a problem, which would require state intervention. Law enforcement agencies know what cases prosecutors accept and won’t accept. There’s also a cost effectiveness factor. For the Sheriff to realize that after expending considerable resources that Holmes County can’t afford it is suspicious. It provided the excuse to go to the state for help with a manufactured problem that is no worse than that of neighboring counties. The FDLE then got the print media to portray the Sheriff as hard on drugs. Some state officials then present the Sheriff with some commendation and remark that he “understands the drug problem.” Realize that the Sheriff’s epiphany and subsequent apotheosis by the FDLE didn’t manifest itself until only after I notified people about the FDLE’s first deal. This is the scandal that concerns them.