John Molchan, You are the Weakest Link

Dear Mr. Molchan,

I am writing this to obtain clarity after your pronouncement that Rakeem Florence’s recantation was moot due to the fact there was overwhelming evidence and his testimony being corroborated by the surveillance video. I take exception to both statements, specifically in the Patrick Gonzalez Jr. case.

 I want to first remind you that this young man was a black 16 year old. He knew people that were on the periphery of this investigation. Your former boss, Mr. Eddins, informed the public this is a capital case. Florence is of the demographic most prone to false confessions. He is the only person of color, besides his family members, when he is interviewed by law enforcement. The circumstances of the crime, ie the media circus, the Sheriff constantly on television calling for public outrage as well as public help in finding the perpetrators of these murders, all culminate in a situation that probably seems like a no win situation to young black man. Imagine coming forward with information (which he & Thornton got straight on the way to police station) and realizing you could easily become a scapegoat. He was in over his head when he got there. Even his mother thought he only knew about some aspect of the murder; she did not believe her son was there. 

This is an excerpt of the cross examination by Michelle Hendrix of Florence in Donnie Stallworth’s 2nd trial, which ended in a hung jury.

Do you know if Florence or Thornton ever talked to Hugh Wiggins, prior to them coming forward?

Here is a story that Gary Sumner’s mother told to me. Prior to the murders, Sumner and Wiggins had a business arrangement. Wiggins provided some capital to help Sumner stay afloat. As so, Wiggins called Sumner and told him he had dropped off a white van, after hours, at the shop. The next morning, Gary gets in and grabs the keys left in the dropbox. He gets into the van to move it inside. He claims there were 4 dead bodies in the back. He got out of the van, called Hugh to say the message was received.  He believed it was a threat. Now whether you believe this story or not. It does not even matter if it was true. All that matters is that the teenagers thought it was true.

Also, I find it fascinating that you never called Florence to testify in Stallworth’s third trial, but I do know why. Michelle Hendrix impeached him with all the other testimonies he gave in the other cases, ex. Coldiron, Gonzalez Jr. etc. She really proved his testimony was worthless. Despite that you seem absolutely sure he was telling the truth. I am going to take a moment to speculate why you are all on-board with Florence and his testimony. I think you are more invested in this story than you are about finding the truth. Morgan conducted a shotty investigation, which the SAO never questioned just prosecuted. No one seriously looked at the family, who should have been scrutinized because they financially gained so much from their parents death. Morgan is a keystone cop. And yet, you took this far-fetched narrative rather than looking at the real issues. Here are some really good suspects: Hugh Wiggins, Justin Billings, Cab Tice. Remember originally Blue Markham told police he sold the van used in the crime to Cab Tice.

Here is just some of the cross-examination by Hendrix:

 In fact, Florence tried to withdraw his plea on April 27, 2011. Yet now you seem to think Florence is disingenuous. This young man is the prime demographic of the textbook case of false confessions. As Ms. Hendrix proved in her cross-examination, his testimony was never consistent. He was not a good witness and you realized this as well. You opted not to put him on the stand in Stallworth’s third trial.  It seems obvious you believe Florence was single-handedly the reason the jury was hung. So in your repetitive trials against Stallworth, after running him out of money, forcing him to opt for a public defender, you did not investigate whether there was something hinky with Florence’s testimony. You could and definitely should have further inquired as to why his story was ever changing. I mean, if the interest is in justice, that would have been the only prudent course. Yet your concern was the win; it was never justice.

Interestingly, I emailed Rakeem and asked him to explain what he called “evidence” of his coercion. This is his reply:

I hope, Mr. Molchan, you realize he is asserting you coerced him and provided the narrative that was factually questionable. You mention that the video surveillance corroborates both Florence’s testimony and Thornton’s testimony.  It sounds like the reason it matches the video is because you crafted his testimony. Now ethically, it plainly looks to be improper for you to blast him on the news, knowing he does not have the same access to those media resources you have. Nevertheless, you are the one saying his recantation is moot, especially since he is accusing you of coercing this testimony. Convenient.

OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE

In reading every page of the thousands of documents dumped into the public domain prior to trial & the trial transcripts, I must presume you either do not know what evidence is, or you are so arrogant to think the pittance of information presented in Gonzalez Jr.’s trial, would put him on death row if presented today.

Here are some excerpts from the trial transcript of Mr. Eddins’s opening statement:

The above is from pg 246 of the transcript volume 2 of the Patrick Gonzalez Jr. Trial.


The highlighted portion is misleading. There was no “proof” only testimony by admitted co-conspirators.

This entire section is factually anemic because Leonard Gonzalez Sr. never testified in his son’s case, nor was his statement entered into evidence. In fact, this is a violation of Rule 4-3.4(E) of the RULES REGULATING THE FLORIDA BAR. That rule provides: A lawyer shall not … in trial, allude to any matter that the lawyer does not reasonably believe is relevant or that will not be supported by admissible evidence, assert personal knowledge of facts in issue except when testifying as a witness, or state a personal opinion as to the justness of a cause, the credibility of a witness, the culpability of a civil litigant, or the guilt or innocence of an accused. The state attorney was doing none of these things; he was exaggerating the totality of the evidence. This statement alludes to Sr. testimony which was never admitted. Carol Brant was Sr.’s common law wife and her testimony would only be admissible if it were corroborating Sr’s testimony, but it was not. These statements potentially taint the jury with facts which were never admitted into evidence, such as the Brady violation by not submitting the most recent criminal history of Smith and Eisa which was unknown by the defense and would have contributed to the weight their testimony carried to the jury.

Mr. Molchan, to recap, there was no legitimate, untainted testimony evidence that Gonzalez Jr. plotted anything. Not to point out the obvious but Thornton’s testimony was concocted in tandem with Florence’s.

As for the physical evidence, your office destroyed the red van you claimed was used in the crime. That evidence is no longer admissible. Carol Brant passed away. So, there are two co-conspirators, who developed their story together and now one has said it was false. You have no credible person to say Jr. plotted this crime. As for physical evidence. In the video, the shooter grabs Bud and Bud grabbed him in this struggle.  This is confirmed by the only eyewitness, the child in the room. GMA reported the child stated:

“The child told police he heard one of the men say, “You’re gonna die — one, two, three.” The boy said his father then grabbed one of the suspects and that his mother got shot in the shirt.”

There is DNA under Bud’s nails. And a profile for that DNA was developed.  But Patrick Gonzalez Jr. is excluded as a contributor.

There is no DNA evidence to put Jr. at the seen or any of his DNA on any clothing. And let’s talk about the guns. The murder weapon was never linked to Gonzalez Jr. except by Hugh Wiggins who had possession of all the guns, the bloody clothes and the safe. Now tell me why he would not be the logical suspect?  Remind me again who the owner of the weapons was. There seems to be no report showing the ATF established whose guns they were. You have Jr.’s fingerprints on the 2 of the guns not shot in this crime. You never established he did anything but touch those guns. Let’s say he did touch them, there is no evidence to suggest he touched those guns that night or during any crucial timeframe. Fingerprints do no come with a time stamp.

Morgan is a keystone cop and the SAO hitched its wagon to his “investigation”. Your office did not question it when he did not investigate the family, the people with the most to gain. What about Cab Tice? Remember Blue Markham told investigators that he sold the van used in the crime to Cab.

With real leads uninvestigated, how in the hell can you claim you are competent. There is so much reasonable doubt,. To sum it up, no physical evidence, no credible circumstantial evidence, leads not investigated. If Gonzalez Jr.’s case was tried today, how could you justify the amount of energy and taxpayer dollars you wasted aggressively pursuing a unviable set of cases. These are people’s lives, Mr. Molchan. There is so many unanswered questions, and you are a public servant. Years ago, I was told there is “no justice in Florida”. I have to say there seems to be so much tunnel vision.

Checkmate, Mr. Molchan. Your case is inviable. It’s time to put your ego aside and find the truth.

Honest Conversation About Veltkamp Shooting

Recently I had a conversation with a deputy I frequently talk with. We discussed a few different things like Sheriff Chip Simmons, morale of the agency and employees that are still shining bad light on the ECSO. It was an honest conversation about the overall aura of the agency. Here is how the conversation went:

JS: So how is the morale of the agency?

Deputy: We expected, when Chip was running for office, he would run through the doors and give the agency back to the good employees that want to do good in the community. But there has been little movement in ridding the agency of the cancer. There are still “problem” employees or in some cases, criminals within the agency.

JS: Isn’t he concerned about looking like an extension of Morgan?

Deputy: It is rumored he wants to be viewed differently than Morgan and understandably so. However, keeping the holdovers that destroyed the optics of the department will only fuel the people claiming Chip is more of the same. The fact of the matter is it appears Chip has done little to hold people accountable for their actions and this continues to make the ECSO lose respect in the community.  

JS: Doesn’t he realize he is under a microscope and by allowing those “hold-overs to remain, he is still destroying the potential the community had for him?

Deputy: He has been lackluster in his efforts to regain the confidence of the employees. People should never be harassed, and Simmons should not involve the department as the arena for political retribution that we witnessed under Morgan’s tyrannical regime.  He had a front row seat of the destruction of good people at the hands of incompetent bullies under the command of Morgan and Eric Haines.

JS: Right. Joe Zarzaur pulled the curtain back on many of the shenanigans in the ECSO.

Deputy: Lie after lie has been identified in sworn testimony given by Morgan and Haines. Haines was even identified as a person with animus toward women in his command.  Judge Vinson said that in a federal lawsuit filed against the ECSO involving Morgan and Haines. Yet Chip retains Haines and seems unlikely to make Haines answer for his poor leadership decisions and actions. Granted those actions happened before Chip, but Haines is still an employee and his actions on behalf of the agency will always remain relevant whether they happened yesterday or last year.

JS: You and I spoke about the recent shooting. Others have reached out to echo your views on this. That seems to be a circumstance created by Mindy and Haines that reared its ugly head.

Deputy: You mean, Sgt. Veltkamp? Most all of us believed her actions were questionable. It was difficult to have much sympathy for her because prior to being promoted, many felt she was a weak deputy and had trouble making good decisions. Her mental condition is in question here, as well. Imagine if she were an accurate shot, she’d have killed an innocent citizen on his property. In today’s climate, every deputy is afraid of being crucified. With cell phones and cameras, most of us are over cautious. Because you never know if one of your dumbass decisions will be played constantly until your family is harassed and the jobs are gone. What scares the hell out of me is that Sgt. Veltkamp has a position of authority with a known mental deficiency or at least an inability to manage emotions.

It is unfair to the agency and Sgt. Veltkamp. Maybe the friends that were attempting to cover up her breakdown were not actually friends. Did her friend help her or just kick the can down the road for a more serious incident to happen later? I think the incident that put Veltkamp in the spotlight speaks for itself.

JS: Do we know if she is stable at this point? What follow up was done to assure her emotional and mental fitness for the job?

Deputy: Unfortunately, Veltkamp could be a victim of circumstance. Her emotional state may not have been as serious as it seems. However, when your closet friends have lost credibility and proven they are less than truthful people, the perception makes everybody question. Mindy Young is the friend believed to be most instrumental in the cover up.  Hell, look at Mindy. We all saw the texts that came out that showed she planned the demise of a complainant officer in an investigation she was conducting. She plotted to cause the employee to feel her “sting” with the subject officer in the complaint. This is proven with actual text messages that exchanged between Mindy Young and Eric Haines. This is beyond disgusting and a violation of Florida law.

I certainly wish the best for Sgt. Veltkamp. But some people are not made to be in law enforcement, or any position giving them a gun. I hope some leadership, some place at the ECSO will pick up this issue and remove the problems and the criminals of the days of inept leadership under the Morgan regime.

JS: I heard from someone else that Veltkamp was cleared of the shooting.

Deputy: I believe that is true. In honesty, there is no record of her psychiatric state in the past, thanks to Mindy. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have issues that people need to be aware of. Maybe it is even more important for her psychological status be more widely known. The man in the store is very lucky. Next time, people may not be so lucky.

JS: But as a few people have brought forth info, is there really good reason to be concerned about Veltkamp?

Deputy: Without a doubt. A seasoned officer with a clear head would not be in the situation she found herself in. I hate to say, this makes female officers look bad all around. Veltkamp’s problems play into the stereotype that female officers are weak and are liabilities because of their emotional reaction. I don’t find that to be true, but she certainly makes the case that can be used against other women in law enforcement.

This IS CORRUPTION

For years, when people told me about the crap that happened in Escambia County on a daily basis, they would say it was “back room deals”, “favors for friends”, “a show of good will”, but all those things are just sugar coating for what really was happening—CORRUPTION.

One definition of corruption is:

 An act done with an intent to give some advantage inconsistent with official dutythe rights of others.

Another is:

  1. Dishonest or illegal behaviors, especially by people in positions of power or authority.
  2. Impairment of moral principal, virtue, or values.

It always surprised me the reluctance to call corruption by name. It really doesn’t matter what label you put on it, the act is what it is.  One of the worst forms of corruption is not the quid pro quo; it is the lack of accountability for those who abuse the system. That  holds potential liability for everyone. Knowing of a wrong, failing to act, is abetting and aiding in the commission of a crime. This means the people “in the know”, who fail to act become just as legally culpable as the person committing the misdeed. This is the foundation of RICO. This is systemic or organized criminal endeavors that others allow to continue.

A good example of someone who should be charged with public corruption is a high level law enforcement officer, who has been given information about a crime within his agency, a federal crime of interstate fraud and identity theft by a naturalized citizen. This person married, bought property in various states under a relatives social security number. She obtained employment and ultimately became a citizen but because of the crimes she committed, her citizenship is not valid. The citizenship oath taken outlines the fact citizenship can and will be revoked if any illegal acts were committed prior to naturalization. So when this law enforcement honcho finds out there is more than smoke in this case and fails to dig any deeper to prevent finding the mess behind the green card, he is guilty of abuse of power. Legally speaking, because of his oath, he is obliged to act if he suspects a crime to have occurred even if this is his favorite employee. That is his duty.  Yet this person WILL fail to act. This is CORRUPTION.

Now we all know the master of the game of corruption, Sheriff Morgan, is most adept at manipulating money. He should be since it is said he first started in the military, hence his refusal to produce his military record or obtain security clearance to work with the feds. Giving him the ability to buy political power or capital via the LET money, he keeps manipulating the process. No one seems to care–least of all Pam Childers. She doesn’t know how the process works, nor does she know the true meaning of the law. Ms. Childers informed me the Sheriff did not have to follow the statute regarding LET  funds because Eddins said they came to an agreement. Can’t make this shit up…..

Gmail - Public Records Request pam childers_Page_1

Gmail - Public Records Request pam childers_Page_2

I will get back to the LET Fund later and  yes, there are more sketchy payments, despite the BOCC supposedly overseeing spending.

What I want to discuss now is the $30K computer/software purchased by ECSO for Eric Haines to have in computer crimes. This should scare the hell out of everyone Haines has in his crosshairs. This set up is for the purpose of pursuing pedophiles and he is being trained to “white hat” hack.  While the computer crimes department is made up of Haines and one other person, isn’t it possible that he can create a backdoor to this new toy he has? We all know that he has targeted people in the past and now with these resources and permission to troll, what could possibly go wrong?

But according to an inside source,  Morgan agreed to this as a promised perk when Haines “self-demoted”.  So now Haines, officially, can spend 8 hours a day, on the county’s dime, to terrorize law abiding citizens he doesn’t see eye to eye with.  Citizens beware!!!!!!!!!!!

My Dear Jackie Letter

Jackie,

I have mulled over how to reply to your discussion of me with Chief Deputy Haines. In light of the article about you being a “Citizen Advocate”, it is ironic that you participate in aiding the deprivation of another citizen’s rights. Your comments with Haines show your desire to shut me up.  Sorry about your luck on that but what I really want to get at is the imbecilic way you impulsively accept what this man says versus the truth of any situation.

file suitsomeone in ky

For example, he claims that I started the “rumor” that Leah had sex with the Sheriff. That isn’t true. That rumor came to me but that is not something I find of any importance. So the Sheriff has horrible taste. That’s between him and his wife.  The fact of the matter is I was called before the Manning story ever hit. There is a post that I did the same day the news broke. This story was one I told from the beginning. In fact, Leah Manning called me from jail because she was offended I called her a bad mother. This opened a dialogue in which she claimed to have a sex tape on a cloud drive of Sheriff Morgan and subordinate deputies having sex. I was told the gender of the subordinate(s) was not female.  Being intrigued, I asked for proof. She claimed after she got sentenced she would release the video. She was concerned for her safety if she released it while in the Escambia County Jail.  That came and went and no video. So I assumed it was just posturing on her part to bait me into following her version of events.

dumb as pino

Fast forward to 2019, when Joe Zarzaur says there are images of the Sheriff in a motel, I immediately believed the tape had been released.  So if I had spread any “rumor”, it would have been more than just Leah and the Sheriff, I assure you. But here’s the thing, I don’t have to justify or explain my actions. I simply didn’t do the things they like to accuse me of doing.

But I know, I have no credibility in your eyes because of Pat Gonzalez and the Billings case. You know what, Jackie, Haines says the van used in the crime was not Pat’s van.  Yet they pushed this narrative which is fundamental in the case against this man.  My persistence in getting under their skin, as I most certainly have, has now forced Haines to admit something that makes the rest of you look foolish for believing in the first place.

billings in haines depo_Page_1billings in haines depo_Page_2billings in haines depo_Page_3billings in haines depo_Page_4

Joe Zarzaur is my hero. He has doggedly pursued the truth from the ECSO & has put your ass in the hot seat to show how this administration goes after people who try to bring the truth to light. He showed how they fail to punish cops who are sexual deviants and the effects of that inaction in the Zaid case is proved to be parallel to the inaction of deputies floating through the Manning house. Eventually, the deviance escalates. Both circumstances evolved in the sexual abuse of children. And your buddy Haines let that happen. HE WILL NEVER ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR THAT, but he was in a position to prevent this from happening and he was too busy reading my blog and obsessively scrolling through Facebook. Your tax dollars at work.

Even though I don’t ever give you a second thought, “Escambia Rose”, you apparently are just as unhinged as Haines.  But hey, keep up the good work, the two of you are proving my point every time my name is mentioned.  At least, I’m making a difference. You are a name on a Facebook page and someone who pulls strings to get publicity for paltry endeavors. Even without the the news covering anything I post, I have more impact on the community than you do by a country mile. Under oath, Haines validated one of the grossest injustices of this county for which I carried the banner for the last 7 years.

I know that I know that I know there are so many people being hurt by your buddy, Haines and his boss, Sir David.  Joe Zarzaur dragged that fact into the light via court actions. He has validated my work and shown what a petty bitch you are.  Thanks, Joe.

Karma’s a bitch, Jackie.

Regards from Kentucky.

Terrorists with Badges

The Escambia County Sheriffs Office has moved into another level of abuse of power. There were always threats and the desire of Haines to argue for arrest with many past employees. Most of the arguments were not legally sound and Haines never found the support to take his corrupt and abusive leadership tactics the next illegal level……………until now.

The States Attorney Office (SAO) has partnered with the ECSO to advance personal attacks and further the cause of Haines and Morgan. Their interest is in retaliation against any person trying to have their rights observed, any person willing to speak out against them, and to silence the rest from causing problems down the line. The recent arrests of Lisa and Kelly Hall is proof of them taking the nuclear option in a relatively nominal infraction. Everyone should realize that this issue was brought to resolution several months ago. There was ample time to remedy this issue when it was first investigated. The fact is it was not important until Kelly Hall decided to fight back for being wrongfully terminated. This is an arrest in retaliation for causing Haines to be held accountable. It isn’t the first time this has happen.

The SAO takes the ECSO at their word as is the “industry standard” for law enforcement. Any law enforcement agency should be honest and should be expected to be truthful with other agencies. The SAO should question information given to them by the ECSO. Haines and Morgan have demonstrated many times they are not honest or capable to effectively complete law enforcement tasks. They are bullies and will misuse their power to harm enemies of their choosing.

We have seen officers go to hotel rooms to exchange drugs for sex while on duty. The public didn’t see this because it was all a huge secret to avoid negative publicity for the ECSO. This is easily seen if one takes the time to read the texts messages recently plaguing the agency that shows the dishonest behavior of Haines and Morgan. It could be that these arrests were to distract from the current narrative that Haines is corrupt based on his text messages.

It is also old news that there is an employee currently at the ECSO that has admitted to using a Social Security Number of a person deceased to avoid deportation. This investigation took place and proved that the employee had purchased property (Mortgage Fraud}, acquired credit cards (Wire Fraud), and the theft of another deceased SSN (identity theft). No action taken against employee.

Most recently a staff member commits a battery on a subordinate. The incident was on recorded video. No arrest of the former staff member. This is a blatant example of how Haines and Morgan guard those who could cause the most damage to their corrupt behavior and tactics. Battery is a crime but there was not a need to arrest the criminal in this instance. There is clearly a sliding scale as to what punishment employees receive. The ones named above are the “favored” people, thus their punishment is negligible Yet, Kelly & Lisa Hall deserve annihilation, really????

This issue is far from over. There will be information coming soon about all these situations. It is imperative that the citizens oversee their government. Government will run out of control if allowed to do so. The ECSO is not operating with honor or integrity. Haines and Morgan must be stopped from abusing their power and position as leaders of the Escambia County Sheriffs Office as their playground of torture and anarchy.

Haters…Haters….Haters

Texts from Sir David, Chief Nonsense (Haines) and Debra Little, their in-house counsel show how the highest law enforcement echelon within the ECSO view criticism and the people who openly criticize them.  They also demonstrate how much they need their egos stroked. Or maybe brown nosing is Haines’s super power.press passivitypassivity contd compliment

 

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Condescendingly blather about the strife of the county seems to elicit humor. And of course, releasing info to disparage “the haters”, knowing full well it is untrue also seems to create a chuckle. Their perception of what the public cares about is so skewed that they don’t see that the mistreatment of their employees just shows they have no respect for any one in the community.  Is this really what the Sheriff and his staff should be concerning themselves with?

haters perpetual victimshaters perpetual victims a

 

Eric Haines’s Worst Friggin’ Nightmare

What is his worst nightmare? That would be me having legally obtained texts from his personal cell phone.

This is just a snippet.

Media manipulation…..  JC is JC Lowe General Manager of WEAR. And apparently Hannah McKenzie was ECSO’s new go-to-person as is Kevin Robinson at the PNJ

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The federal task force on guns.

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To be continued…….

Pattern of Evidence Mishandling

Steve Cappas has become the poster boy of what a good investigator doesn’t look like. What is really disturbing is that Cappas is an average Joe in this agency. He is among others just like him.  He is the guy that takes orders well and doesn’t, for a second, question authority.  A dutiful soldier. But in that case, is that what is needed?  Is it ok for someone to break the law if a commanding officer directs them to do so? No it isn’t but most try to assert the Nuremberg Defense,  I was just following orders. I’m sure Cappas will be using that himself. The fact remains, law enforcement officers are supposed to follow laws, procedures & protocol for EVERYONE’S protection, not just their own. Cappas’s deviation from procedure and policy exposes, not only himself, to liability but the agency as well. Not to mention the fact that failing to properly handle/store evidence could affect a person’s liberty and freedom can be taken. That is the most crucial part.

In this case, two deputies rolled the dice on this evidence that was not properly handled and stored; one was able to get away with molesting a child because of it and one was found guilty, in the absence of evidence. That is paradox within itself. But both of their trials will be moot due to the mishandling of evidence. The “what-if’s” will propel criminal and civil cases alike back in front of a judge and jury.  As they should, in this case. Morgan’s crew did whatever they wanted. Procedure is overrated to them. Due process protection is not important to them. The law is of no consequence.

Steve Cappas was worried about me making his sworn testimony free for people to see and to shine a light on randomly applied laws and selective enforcement of policies. His words, though true, are going to be the catalyst for next phase of the ECSO. The paradigm has shifted. Evidence has been lackadaisically handled and destroyed in many cases. Records, in particular, are the biggest casualties of this regime. For example, public records have been destroyed in regards to one unsworn employee specifically. This employee became a citizen in 2011. The problem is this person has been in the US for more than 20+ years illegally. With false papers, this employee went to school, has bought property, married and worked. Because of that, the citizenship granted in 2011 is void, because this person is guilty of fraud, identity theft, larceny by trick. These felonious acts will invalidate citizenship. When this came to Morgan’s attention, he had it investigated and that indeed was the case. What did he do next? Nothing. He didn’t want anything negative to happen to the employee, so he let this criminal slide. That is a violation of his oath and Florida law, as he is aiding this person. Then Morgan wanted the records destroyed.  To date, this person is a well insulated employee at the ECSO. Your tax dollars at work.

Getting back to the evidence. The procedure’s violated by both these case is excerpted in the passage below.

 

High value items/narcotics: Submitting officers/crime scene technicians must separate items including, but not limited to, narcotics, firearms, jewelry, and currency so that it will be submitted separately from all other evidence items and where possible, will be identified with individual defendants or owners.  All high value items will be submitted with NO unnecessary delay.  [CFA 36.01 E]

527.5

Release and Disposal of Property/ Evidence [CFA 36.01 G]

Property or evidence may be released from the Evidence Unit with the authorization of certain individuals under certain conditions.  The Evidence Unit is responsible for ensuring that prior to the release, disposal or destruction of property that such property can be legally possessed by the person to whom it is to be released, and that there are no pending court orders prevent the release, disposal or destruction of the property.

Persons who may authorize the release of property:

  • Submitting officer;
  • An investigator assigned to the case;
  • Officers authorized by the investigator assigned to the case;
  • Supervisor of the submitting officer or Investigator assigned the case;
  • In cases where the submitting officer and/or investigator is no longer employed with the Sheriff’s Office:
  • Operations Division OIC;
  • Investigation Division OIC/AOIC;
  • Investigations Section OIC/AOIC;
  • Forensic Services Section Supervisor;
  • Evidence Unit Supervisor;
  • Chief Deputy; and
  • Sheriff.

 

In cases where the submitting officer and/or investigator was from another agency and is no longer employed with said agency, release may be authorized by the: [CFA 36.01 G]

  • A command level supervisor for the submitting agency (in writing);
  • Forensic Services Supervisor;
  • Evidence Unit Supervisor;
  • Investigation Section OIC/AOIC;
  • Investigations Division OIC/AOIC;
  • Chief Deputy; and
  • Sheriff

 

Property or evidence may be released for the following reasons:

  • Return to the owner;
  • Return to the agent: As in the situation where the victim has been reimbursed by an insurance company and the proper documentation has been filed with the Criminal Records Section by the insurance carrier;
  • Evidence processing, laboratory examination, and/or other investigative purpose;
  • Court presentation, evidence review related to discovery or case preparation, or in compliance with other court order;
  • Disposal of unclaimed evidence, lost or abandoned property; or,
  • Disposal or destruction of contraband property.
  • Disposal through a settlement or Final Order pursuant to Florida’s Contraband Forfeiture Act.

All transfers in the chain of custody will be recorded on ALL evidence cards to include, but not limited to, the following:

  • a) Date and time of transfer; [CFA 35.02 A]
  • b) Receiving person’s name and authority; and [CFA 35.02 B]
  • c) Reason for transfer. [CFA 35.02 C]

 

Each evidence transfer, whether by evidence card, transfer form or other means, will be documented with the following:

  •          Date/time & method of transfer; [CFA 35.02 A]
  •          Receiving person’s name/responsibility; [CFA 35.02 B]
  •          Reason of transfer; [CFA 35.02 C]
  •          Name/location/lab and synopsis of events; [CFA 35.02 D]
  •          Date/time received in lab; and [CFA 35.02 E]
  •          Name/signature of person in lab receiving the evidence. [CFA 35.02 F]

 

If any of these things had happened, we would not be talking about either case now. But we are and some criminals go unpunished . How do I know that evidence has been destroyed? The employee mentioned above is still in this country and still employed by Morgan. If the evidence of this employee’s citizenship were properly handled, this would be an empty seat in his office.  However, the employee is there and that is proof that documented crimes and evidence has been destroyed.

More Sketchy ECSO Facts

In my last post, the procedure of how the “sensitive” or “exceptional” investigations conducted by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office were handled was explained by LT. Steve Cappas. Zach Ward pointed out how a report with critical evidence that he handled was inexplicably missing from the case file while it was replaced by another report done a year later by a different person. This illustrates tampering and/or destruction of evidence. Steve Cappas tried hard to cover up and explain away inaccuracies told by Sheriff Morgan in his press conference. It was obvious that evidence that should have been handled professionally and securely, was not and many people were aware and had access to sensitive information that could be manipulated for self-preservation by many. I am not saying it WAS manipulated but just the fact that the opportunity and access facilitated the possibility of multiple hands altering evidence to preserve their livelihoods, reputations, and marriages, exists. It would just take one desperate person feeling backed into a corner, with the ability to distort the facts of the case via the digital evidence. While I am not saying it did happen for a fact, often, good people make bad decisions if the opportunity presents itself. This was a politically charged case that could have led to career ending implications, possible jail time repercussions and even personal life destruction. And the handling of evidence was so sloppy, that we cannot know for a fact it wasn’t tainted. That is the reason for police procedures is to minimize opportunities and preserve chain of custody. That did not exist in this case.  My question is how many other cases happened like that over the tenure of Sheriff Morgan?

 In trying to understand if it is possible other cases, big or small, may have been handled just as unprofessionally, we must look at the people in charge of such investigations. Today, I want to continue the discussion with a look at the most recent head of Internal Affairs investigations, Frank Forte. Under his watch, many deputies’ careers have passed through his hands.  Just to give some context and clarification, during Zarzaur’s deposition with Eric Haines, done last week, it came out there is no internal procedure or process of handling or even initiating IA investigations. IA has been used as a tool for the administration to conduct witch hunts against deputies they consider, unworthy of the badge. Any reasoning works and depending on how vehemently Eric wants people gone, it can be a nonsensical and even unlawful process. An example is Tama Barber’s writ of Mandamus, where Morgan decided there would be no compliance hearing that is available to deputies via Florida statute. Morgan doesn’t have the authority to deny that, yet he did. This is standard operating procedure.

None these mishandlings of IA investigations can go on, if a professional is at the head of this department, assuring deputies’ rights aren’t violated as well as procedure is followed to protect the ECSO from liability in wrongful termination suits. Forte being the head of this particular department, is very interesting because there is documentation showing Frank Forte perjured himself.

Because my colleague, Dr. James Scaminaci III delivers the facts as elegantly as I would be able to, I differ to his article on CJ’s Street Report from December 14, 2016:

The basic facts are these.  Sergeant Nix was working a side job in Pensacola Beach.  He gave permission to three vehicles to park in a “Loading Zone” area.  Sergeant Nix knew that there was no Florida statute prohibiting parking in such a zone (there is now).  Sergeant Nix advised Deputy Cripe that he had given the car owners permission to park there and that it was legal.  Deputy Cripe complained to Lt. Frank Forte who instructed Deputy Cripe to write the tickets.  Once Nix left his side job, Cripe wrote two tickets on Saturday and one ticket on Monday.  The three tickets involved two car owners.

Sergeant Nix was subpoenaed to appear as a defense witness, as was Deputy Cripe as a for the prosecution.  Lt. Forte attended as an observer.

After Nix’s testimony had concluded, Lt. Forte told Col Hardy that Sergeant Nix had violated ECSO guidelines in his testimony.  In the June 28, 2016, memo from Col Hardy to Chief Deputy Haines, Hardy wrote:  “Following the hearings, I was contacted by Lt. Forte and he informed me that it was his belief that the testimony given by Sgt. Nix against the Sheriff’s Office during the hearings rose to the level of Unbecoming Conduct in violation of ECSO policy.”

In the very same memo from Hardy to Haines, Col Hardy informed the Chief Deputy that he had checked to see if there were any evidence that could contradict or corroborate Lt Forte’s belief.  There was no such evidence.  Thus, the second Internal Affairs investigation began.

It is important to note that this second Internal Affairs investigation proceeded once Hardy and Haines were assured there was no evidence that could contradict Forte’s statement.  It would be an officer’s word against a sergeant’s word, backed up by a deputy, Cripe who was in the courtroom.

Unbeknownst to Haines, Hardy, Forte, and Cripe, Sergeant Nix, already in the gun sights of the ECSO due to the ongoing first Internal Affairs investigation seeking to charge him with felony grand theft, paid for a court reporter to record the proceedings of the traffic court.

Unfortunately, I do not have an electronic copy of the second Internal Affairs documentation.  However, I do have hard copy of Lt. Forte’s sworn recorded statement regarding IA # I2016-012 dated July 22, 2016.

On page 9 of his sworn to be true testimony, Lt Forte told ECSO investigators, “…and the exact words, I can’t remember but I can tell you that part of it was, I was assigned to that beach for a long time and I’m aware that deputies have a habit of writing illegal tickets there.  And I couldn’t believe that he made that statement in court.  First of all, it’s not a true statement.  But to make that statement is bad enough….Our deputies sitting there shaking their heads.  Got their heads down shaking their heads like they can’t believe those words just came out of Nix’s mouth.”

On page 10, Lt. Forte’s sworn to be true recorded testimony reads:  “POLLOCK: And is this opinion of these illegal tickets or did he just kind of make some blanket statement?  FORTE: Nix blurted the statement I gave you.  Uhm.  He was never asked, what is your opinion or anything of that nature.  I didn’t hear that.  What I heard was Philip Nix explaining how he gave them permission and then he continues on to say something to the effect of, I’m very familiar with that red curb because uh there’s been numerous deputies that have written tickets on that, uh illegal parking tickets on that red curb.  Uhm, and when he made that statement uhm I can assure you no one asked him his opinion or asked him any of that.  He, that was, that was solely on him.”

Pretty damning stuff.  Except not one word of what Lt. Forte swore to be true under oath under the penalty of perjury was true.  He lied through his teeth believing there was no way his perjured testimony could be challenged by Sergeant Nix.

According to the transcript of the traffic court hearing, here is exactly what was said in the exchange between Mr. Chris Rabby, the lawyer for the car owners, and Sergeant Nix, witness for the defense:

“Question: So the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department has been illegally ticketing people for years for parking in front of The Dock?”
“Answer [NIX]:  “I don’t–if there is no statute for it, I don’t know what they are being ticketed for.”
Mr. Rabby:  “I don’t have any further questions of this witness.”

Maybe in an alternate universe there is a Sergeant Nix transforming a question from a lawyer into his own statement, but in that traffic hearing on that day, Sergeant Nix answered in the negative.  Lt. Forte’s sworn to be true testimony is false.  He perjured himself.  Surely there is some violation of ECSO policy for bringing a false accusation against a fellow law enforcement officer, providing false testimony, and wasting the ECSO’s resources on a fake crime.

Was Lt. Forte investigated or otherwise disciplined for making a false accusation, providing false testimony, and wasting ECSO resources?  In the voice of an insurance company model, “No.”

Here, outsiders can see clearly two standards of justice.  If you are a favorite of the ruling class–Morgan and Haines and Hardy–you can lie under oath, as long as your lies are in the service of the ruling class.  In that case, you are golden.  But, if you stand up for ordinary residents being falsely accused by the ECSO of parking their cars in a prohibited loading zone, well, you better have a lawyer and a court reporter on your side.  But what is legal and what is true are of no concern to Morgan and Haines.  What counts for them is blind obedience–the law and truth be damned.

Any resident should be able to understand this case and the jeopardy that puts you in.  If Sheriff Morgan wants you to be fined and/or prosecuted, there are deputies willing to perjure themselves to keep their jobs.  And Morgan will protect them.  We know that because Sergeant Nix advised Sheriff Morgan as to the lies told and Morgan did absolutely nothing

So we have established we have a lieutenant over Special Victims or Investigations that doesn’t secure evidence, now the Lieutenant over Internal Affairs who has perjured himself and been apparently rewarded for doing so by subsequent promotion to his current position after the perjury was made clear to admin. Why should we expect any investigation to be handled correctly when we cannot expect proper handling of big cases, like the Manning sex case nor the civil case involving parking tickets illegally issued?

Anyone wanting to read the entire, lengthy statement of Frank Forte, the court transcript from the civil traffic court case or the result of the IA against Forte for perjury which exonerated him can click links above.

Why Chip Simmons’s Fall from Grace Will Keep Him Out of Public Office

As it has been predicted, the prophesy that Chief Deputy Simmons (aka Chipper) would be more of the same if elected to the office of Sheriff, has come to fruition. Several months ago, an employee outed an affair Chipper was involved in. She was disciplined for having an extramarital affair. Naturally, wanting the policies and rules to be evenly upheld, the employee believed it was wrong that she would be disciplined for an affair and Chief Simmons would not suffer any discipline for having an extramarital affair himself. There were ample details given to investigate this Chipper’s affair via a complaint made to the ECSO. This entire situation should have been investigated, especially since one of the possible victims of the extramarital affair is an employee at the ECSO and Chief Simmons is his boss.

Ultimately, two employees lost their jobs for having an affair. Neither employee was a part of the reported Chipper’s affair. The affair he had (or is having) was never investigated. The rules apparently don’t apply to Pensacola’s fair-haired boy. While the public once saw him as their favored and “honest” political personality, and he played the part by acting like such, he can no longer deny he is just as corrupt and as much of a hypocrite as Morgan or Haines.

The sad part is his conscience isn’t impeding his race for the top. Just imagine, knowing two employees were terminated, effectively ending their careers, for having an affair and you are doing the same thing without fall-out, should weigh heavy if you have any moral compass at all. Yet, with Chipper, not so much. He smiles and shakes hands with campaign donors while the people under him see him as minion of Morgan. As long as he abandons those he is supposed to lead (as he did when Haines held well earned raises over their heads) and stands by watching careers go down the drain for things he is guilty of while he basks in the sunlight, he doesn’t deserve the public trust just like the current administration doesn’t deserve the public respect and trust that was placed in them.

Let’s not forget there is a husband who calls Chipper his boss. This man must smile and grin, knowing that his boss is sleeping with his wife. That is twisted. That within itself is just not the stuff true leaders are made of.  Playing Devil’s advocate, if this is purely rumor wouldn’t any competent leader want to get to the truth in this matter?  However, it seems like, if an investigation were started, it would be documented that Chipper is an adulterer and has abused his power over the husband of his mistress and that is no good for political campaign.

Chipper wants to be the top law enforcement officer in our county. The citizens have the right to know if he is the person, he claims he is. He has worked diligently in his career to build a reputation in the public eye. Yet in almost 4 short years since he was hired, he has become as vile as the man that hired him. I, personally, would like to see some questions answered. I, personally, would like to see an appropriate investigation into this matter. I’d like to see him explain why an extramarital affair makes him worthy of being a Sheriff.

A true investigation would find Chipper involved in an extramarital affair and then there would be questions. He would have to answer why he watched two employees lose their careers because of something he was also doing without consequence. He would need to explain what makes him believe he should be Sheriff after lying about having an affair. I would want to know if he ever feels guilty for allowing himself to avoid responsibility for an act that cost others their career. Two people he knew well and worked with daily. People that he knew was aware of his inappropriate relationship if determined to be true.

One other question of great interest to the ECSO deputies is why he was exploiting his brother’s nepotism. Ken Simmons, Chipper’s brother, was promoted to a Captains position. There is not a career path for becoming a Captain. Historically it has been a political appointment. Morgan promoted Chipper’s brother when the statute is clearly being violated. None of the leadership at the ECSO stepped in and voiced concern for blatant law violations. (FSS 112. 3135) It would be difficult to argue Chipper had no input in the matter or for that matter, that it appears that Morgan was doing him a favor by promoting his brother over more competent candidates.

Neither issue is as concerning to the public as the deafening silence by Chipper, while he is able to make changes. If he is not actually allowed to rule against Haines, then he must be courageous enough to step away and fight to be elected. Taking a path of going along to get along is discouraging. That isn’t a new idea at the ECSO. That is an example of what is not needed. There have been several attempts to reach out to Simmons and beg for his leadership. He has ignored all the calls from employees to help the ECSO survive the failure of leadership. Tell me again why this is the person for the job of Sheriff?