JACKSONVILLE, FL - August 13, 2020 - According to an online news report provided by Gainesville.com, the Clay County Sheriff has been arrested. The Clay County Sheriff faces three misdemeanor criminal charges and one felony criminal charge. The Clay County Sheriff's arrest comes after a year-long sex scandal investigation. The sex scandal went public following an announcement of an internal investigation of a female corrections officer; the Clay County Sheriff allegedly engaged in sexual activities. The Clay County Sheriff knew the female corrections officer because the Clay County Sheriff used to be the jail's director.
It is being alleged that the Clay County Sheriff ordered his deputies to place a woman under arrest for stalking offenses in May 2019. The individuals ordered to arrest the woman stated to the prosecutors that they did not believe there was any justification for arresting the woman. The woman resigned from her position during the investigation of her alleged misconduct.
Jacksonville prosecutors made a formal request to have the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate the Clay County Sheriff. However, the Jacksonville State Attorney's Office was not able to move the case forward because the prosecutors claimed a conflict of interest. Governor Ron DeSantis then delegated Brad King, Ocala's State Attorney, as "special prosecutor" in the case. State Attorney Brad King then obtained an arrest warrant for the Clay County Sheriff's arrest. The arrest warrant included "three misdemeanor counts of giving false information to law enforcement," and one felony charge of "tampering with evidence."
The defendant's attorney alleges the issuance of an arrest warrant and the formal pressing of criminal charges is suspicious since the election for Jacksonville Sheriff is only five days away. The Clay County Sheriff's attorney stated that the timing of the charges appears to be "designed to influence the outcome of that election."
The Clay County Sheriff was arrested and booked in the jail on Thursday evening but would be released from jail without needing to post a bond after the Clay County Sheriff has been processed. Andrew Ford, the Clay County Sheriff's Office spokesperson, stated he had no comments. The news report states that the special prosecutor's office, the governor's office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement did not provide any comments. Governor Ron DeSantis has the power to remove and replace the Clay County Sheriff.
The Clay County Sheriff has a reputation for his tough-on-crime remarks. These remarks often went viral on social media. An example of one of the Clay County Sheriff's viral videos was a video where the Clay County Sheriff promised to deputized every Clay County gun-owner due to the Black Lives Matter protests. According to both News4Jax and First Coast News, it was reported that King first offered the Clay County Sheriff a "non-prosecution deal if he would resign." However, the Clay County Sheriff declined the offer. The Clay County Sheriff is a first-term sheriff who is up for re-election. The Clay County Sheriff stated in the past that he wanted to become a congressman one day. The news report states that the Clay County Sheriff is still on the ballot.