On June 21st, the PNJ ran an article about a foundation, The Escambia County Sheriff Foundation. This foundation’s mission is, as follows:
“The Escambia County Sheriff Foundation, Inc. is a public 501 (c) (3) organization formed to support the mission and employees of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. We will work to further and foster engagement opportunities while promoting public safety through community outreach. The Foundation will endeavor to improve the quality of life for every citizen in Escambia County.“
There are a few things wrong with this whole thing. While it is supposed to “divorce” the LET money expenditures for the ECSO, it then becomes an agency that handles that money and is less transparent. Let me explain: On April 6, 2018, as part of a huge voucher, the Panhandle Charitable Open received $20K from LET. According to WEAR, after the event, in November that year, $300K was raised, which will benefit 27 non-profits in the area. Now, to explain what the process should be:
- The fundraiser fills out an application for the LET funds
- The Sheriff approves it
- Then it goes to the BOCC for approval.
- The check is cut to the charity.
- Then the agency receiving the funds must provide an accounting of the LET money as a way to make sure it is properly spent. This is the ECSO’s responsibility.
- Lastly, it is submitted to the clerk of court for an audit by them to make sure all the players did what they should.
In Escambia County, as it has under Morgan, this is the process:
- The charity can fill out the application, or Morgan offers them money.
- He approves it and cuts a check.
- He then submits to the BOCC for reimbursement. Since the ECSO, is using their general fund to pay the charity, against statute, the BOCC is more than compelled to reimburse without question.
- And no one follows up on how the money is spent. The financial officer at the ECSO advised me that he is not responsible for that follow up paperwork; the clerk of court is. When I emailed the clerk, she acted like I was speaking a foreign language. She claims she didn’t know to check for that, she never has and frankly thought I was making up the particulars of the Statute. I also had to explain that as Comptroller, she is supposed to be the final verification of things being done correctly. She responded by telling me that Bill Eddins had worked out an agreement with the BOCC and worked around that. I told her she can’t be directed to not follow the statute. If the SA is telling you to do something that basically gives a pass on fiscal accountability. The email exchange is here.
Getting back to this foundation, I am not a criminal mastermind, but here is a scenario that seems like a way this process can be perverted. This purely an example I can see happening, since we are still playing by Morgan’s rules, let us review the Panhandle Open from requests funds from LET ($20K in 2017; $30K in 2018); it is approved; the Panhandle Open distributes the money to various charities without accountability to the ECSO. Then these charities can in turn, can use the money to “donate” to this ECSO foundation. It could even end up in a candidate’s donations. Now it is clean….laundered. The more people shuffle the money, the more chance there is for misappropriation PERIOD!
I mentioned the campaign donations because over the years, I have had a few people who were at charity events where Morgan bestowed LET money is a celebratory fashion. He literally handed the chair of organization a check and with the other hand, received checks in exchange. This was done openly and like I said a few people saw this and did not know it was wrong. But it is money laundering.
Real life examples:
Denver Sheriff’s Foundation (This foundation handled donations other than LET, but to the same end)
Milwaukee County Forfeiture Misappropriation
Capistrano Unified School District Foundation (This foundation operates similarly)
Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Charged with RICO violations
Minnehaha, South Dakota Sheriff’s Office & Deputies Association Misuse of Forfeiture Funds
This list is not all inclusive. This is just one problem with this foundation.
The second issue is the composition of the board of directors. It is made up of people that are sketchy. The president is Brian Williams. He is connected to contractors that are committing fraud each day. That is another post soon to be released. The vice president is Whitny Lucas, the wife of a ECSO garage employee Jake Lucas. She is also the girlfriend of Chip Simmons, who is her husband’s boss. This all was revealed in another post.
There are other people on the board, such as Andy Hobbs who is a part of the admin who was promoted because of who he knew, not merit and he is a good friend of Chip. Of course, Tommy Lyter is in the mix. We have Chris Roney who is connected to Williams via Big Brothers & Big Sisters, an organization that was provided for lavishly by LET funds. We also have a Studer connection in DC Reeves. It is mixed in with Lewis Bear’s family. Unfortunately, they are backing Morgan for his mayoral run. This foundation is sit up in the midst of a corrupt agency, not yet cleaned from Morgan; the oversight of the money people who have an interest in receiving LET money. This foundation is easily susceptible to corruption and connected to a corrupt agency…well I think you get the picture.
So we have a vulnerable agency, not so-level board members and money. Draw your own conclusion.
FYI Corruption has certain characteristics, abuse of power (political favors), bribery/coercion, misappropriation of funds, money laundering and eventually tax evasion. All this equals RICO.