I interviewed St. Johns County Sheriff David B. Shoar for Historic City News this afternoon to talk about his impressions of the Manuel hearing today.
“This is a great civics lesson”, Shoar told me. Two honest citizens, a builder and his attorney, were approached by a politician who they felt was forcing them to do something illegal.
The citizens went to law enforcement officials who investigated and presented their findings to a grand jury. The grand jury handed down an indictment and the case went to court.
Now, the accused politician has admitted his guilt and will be sentenced for his crime.
Shoar said, “That’s the way the system is supposed to work.”
I asked Shoar about Manuel’s claim that his political enemies engineered this case and I was told, “That’s ridiculous.”
Shoar made a good point that Manuel was the one demanding the money, not Bruce Robbins or George McClure.
Of course Shoar was himself barbed by the St. Augustine Record on June 22, 2008, when they questioned whether the sheriff should have disclosed the investigation into Tom Manuel to the media.
Shoar said the FBI was on the verge of questioning employees, so county managers needed to know about the investigation.
“This crime is not about the FBI confirming their investigation or me or the reporter in Jacksonville Beach who saw Manuel being detained and questioned by police — it’s about two citizens who realized that they were being told to take part in a corrupt, criminal act by a powerful, elected official and who made the decision to come forward and do the right thing.” Shoar told me.
“I commend them”, said Sheriff Shoar.