Sheriff David Shoar, who once told local Historic City News editor Michael Gold that he is a recovering alcoholic, is discovered protecting another employee from prosecution. This time it is 61-year-old Cynthia Lynn Graham, who resides with her ex-husband at 1792 Carter Road in St Augustine, not far from where she admitted to deputies that she drove her blue Honda Civic into a ditch following a night out drinking in Jacksonville.
In numerous articles during his term in office, television, radio, and Internet broadcast, as well as the occasional newspaper, St Johns County Sheriff David Shoar is caught shielding one of his employees; refusing to bring criminal charges, or, and this is my favorite, claiming his officers, investigators, or, supervisors “made a mistake” and now it is “too late” to go back and make an arrest.
“Supervisors misunderstood the circumstances of the crash after the deputies relayed that the car could no longer be driven,” The Record reported they were told by Shoar’s nimble contracted spokesperson, Charles E. Mulligan. “Supervisors understood that to mean that there would be difficulty proving that Graham had been in physical control of the car at the time of the crash.”
Really? “Supervisors” misunderstood that?
Graham, a correction control operator at the St Johns County Jail since 2006, was discovered just before 3:00 a.m. on March 10, 2018, by Deputy Sheriff Jerry Tillett in the ditch alongside Carter Road near the intersection of CR-214. Contributed SJSO photo.
“The vehicle was still running with the lights on and occupied by the registered owner Cynthia Graham,” Tillett wrote in the original incident report. “Cynthia was the sole occupant of the vehicle.”
Deputy Tillett observed, and recorded in his report, that Graham had alcohol on her breath, it appeared that she spilled the contents of an open Michelob Ultra onto the seat and floorboard, leaving the aluminum beer bottle lying on the front right passenger side floorboard, and she admitted that she had been out drinking before she lost control of her vehicle and drove into the ditch. Further, Tillett noted “heavy damage” on the driver’s side of the car. Before coming to a final rest, Tillett wrote that the vehicle appeared to have struck a wooden power pole, and a pay telephone on the side of the road. Tillett found her, still behind the wheel.
The narrative of the incident report from the night of the crash says that Graham told Tillett she spent most of her night at a Jacksonville bar named “Cheers”. Tillett wrote that Graham told him that she consumed a “large quantity of alcohol”. He asked her how much she had to drink, to which she replied, “too many to count”, according to published reports.
Shoar has an arrangement with the Florida Highway Patrol. Unless he requests otherwise, he will investigate his own traffic crashes within the county. Do you think that a state trooper finding the same evidence and circumstances would believe he had probable cause to arrest the sheriff’s employee and book her into the same jail where she works?
Graham was not given a breath test the night of the crash.
The following month, in April, instead of being issued a Uniform Traffic Citation for driving under the influence of alcohol, Graham, who is paid $42,242.00 annually plus benefits, was given a letter of reprimand for “conduct unbecoming an employee”.
The St Augustine Record was a source in producing this article, as well as WJXT in Jacksonville and Action News Jacksonville and Historic City News archives.