Sheriff attempts misappropriation of law enforcement funds

SPECIAL OFFER FOR HISTORIC CITY NEWS READERS

Historic City News learned Friday that St Johns County Sheriff David B. Shoar has apparently attempted to misappropriate $10,000.00 in public funds making a material misstatement that the use of those funds by a third-party organization complies with the requirements of state law.  To further conceal the misappropriation sought by the sheriff, the request appears only on the “consent agenda”; recommended by administrative staff for approval without public comment or board discussion.

The Sheriff’s Office is requesting an expenditure from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund in the amount of $10,000.00 to support a local and non-profit organization, “Forward March, Inc.” in its efforts to “assist veterans in need” throughout the community.  This is the private group restoring the American Legion building located on the Bayfront at Anderson Circle.  The board of directors largely consists of Shoar’s political campaign supporters, financial contributors, and cronies from his past relationship with the Florida National Guard.  They are NOT a law enforcement agency or perform a law enforcement mission for the community.

For the Tuesday morning meeting of the St Johns County Commission, Assistant County Administrator, Joy Andrews, wrote “Forward March, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) founded for the specific purpose of supporting the increasing public awareness of and the growing interest in the historic heritage of the greater St. Augustine, Florida area through educational programs and charitable activities” — NOT a law enforcement purpose.

Andrews’ suggested motion and recommendation reads, “Motion to transfer $10,000 from Law Enforcement Trust Fund Reserves to support Forward March, Inc. in its efforts to assist veterans in need throughout the community.”  — NOT a law enforcement purpose.

Sections 932.701-932.706, F.S., comprise the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, which provides for the seizure and civil forfeiture of property related to criminal and non-criminal violations of law.  The proceeds from forfeitures shall be deposited in a special law enforcement trust fund established by the Board of County Commissioners.

According to 932.7055, F.S., titled, “Disposition of liens and forfeited property”, such proceeds and interest earned therefrom shall be used for:

·       school resource officer program

·       crime prevention program

·       safe neighborhood program

·       drug abuse education and prevention programs

·       other law enforcement purposes

·       defraying the cost of protracted or complex investigations

·       providing additional equipment or expertise

·       purchasing automated external defibrillators for law enforcement vehicles

·       providing matching funds to obtain federal grants

At issue is a letter addressed to Chairman Dean, submitted by Shoar in his official capacity as sheriff, which states:

SUBJECT: LAW ENFORCEMENT TRUST FUND

Dear Chairman Dean,

The Sheriff’s Office is requesting expenditures from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund in the amount of $10,000.00. The funds will be used for the support of a local and non-profit organization, Forward March, INC. and will be dedicated to assisting veterans in need throughout our community.

Should the Board approve this expenditure, it is in compliance with Florida Statute 932.7055. Once funding is approved, the invoice will be paid and all proper documentation will be presented to Mr. Allen MacDonald for reimbursement.

Your consideration in this matter is greatly appreciated. Please do not hesitate to contact me should I be able to provide additional assistance or information.

Sincerely,

David B. Shoar

Sheriff

Shoar specifically represents, “Should the Board approve this expenditure, it is in compliance with Florida Statute 932.7055.”  Since the money is not being used by the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office, and Shoar simply intends to give it away to his friends, Forward March, Inc. must apply to the sheriff for an appropriation and its application shall be accompanied by a written certification that the moneys will be used for an authorized purpose, from a somewhat more restricted list.

When used by an agency or organization, other than the seizing agency, such funds may be used only for:

·       school resource officer,
·       crime prevention,
·       safe neighborhood,
·       drug abuse education,
·       drug prevention programs
·       other law enforcement purposes

Although a cause supported by Sheriff Shoar, “assisting veterans in need throughout the community” is NOT an authorized purpose specified in the Florida Statutes.  For Shoar to tell the Chairman and elected members of the Board of Commissioners that it is, puts them all in jeopardy of violating the law based on Shoar’s false and misleading representation.

Further, an agency or organization that receives money pursuant to this subsection shall provide an accounting for such moneys and shall furnish the same reports as an agency of the county that receives public funds.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. in the County Auditorium located at 500 San Sebastian View.  Readers who wish to express themselves on this or other matters may address the commission at that time.  Public Comments are one of the first orders of business on the agenda, so come early if you wish to speak.

 

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