State Attorney’s Investigative Report on Bunnell Police Department and City Commissioner Jimmy Flynt:
Part 4 of 6
FlaglerLive | August 15, 2010
For an analysis of the report, see
“State Report Details Disturbing Patterns at Bunnell PD and Favors For Commissioner Jimmy Flynt“
April 19, 2010, at approximately 1455 hrs, I received a call from Ryan B. Hernaez (HM 07-18-85, Palm Coast, phone number deleted). I explained the purpose of my investigation. He said he was called to Bunnell to pick up a friend, Patricia E. Swiatkowski, at US-I and Grande Reserve on January 31, 2009. He said she had been stopped and arrested by BPD (BPD case# 09-8 14). He said he arrived and BPD checked his license and found it was suspended. He said the same wrecker that towed Patty’s car towed his car. He said no officer at the scene asked him anything about a wrecker; they just used the one that was already there. Mr. Hernaez said it cost him $120.00 and he had to also pay some other fee. He said that fee was $50.00 but couldn’t remember if he had to pay it or it was waived. He said he could not locate his towing receipt and paperwork but that Saxon’s Wrecker towed his car. He said he had his friend with him that had a valid license but that the BPD officers would not let him drive the car.
Writer’s note: On May 4, 2010, Ryan B. Hernaez responded to the Flagler SAO and provided a sworn videotaped statement. Please refer to the videotape for the exact details.
April 20, 2010, at approximately 1005 hrs, James “Jimmy” Flynt (WM 03-22-59, Bunnell,phone number deleted) responded to the Flagler SAO and provided a sworn videotaped statement. Jimmy Flynt had previously requested to talk with Investigator Bisland and me and agreed to come to the Flagler SAO for a statement. Jimmy Flynt was interviewed and questioned about the wrecker favoritism and the incident at Payless Auto Sales. Jimmy Flynt indicated that he was unaware of any favoritism or out of rotation wrecker calls by Lt. John Murray. He did acknowledge that the Payless incident was probably a civil issue and that he felt responsible for placing Lisa Murray in the position to take the action she did. He advised that he was upset at the time and in hindsight it was not handled properly. Please refer to the videotape for exact details.
At approximately 1200 hrs, same date, I received a call from Patricia E. Swiatkowski (WF 06-24-88, Palm Coast phone number deleted). She said she was stopped by BPD and charged with seeds (marijuana) after a search of her car (BPD case# 09-811). She said her car was seized and she was never asked any questions or given any options about a wrecker. She said Saxon’s Wrecker towed her car and she had to pay $350.00 to the BPD before she could get her car from the tow company. She said that her friend that came to give her a ride also had his car towed.
April 21, 2010, BPD Sgt. Frank Gamarra called to update me. He said he heard that Lt. John Murray made some questionable comments regarding the SAO investigation. He said he spoke to Sgt. Barbee and Officer Hosford and both conveyed that Lt. Murray was upset about any potential testimony by current or former members of the BPD. I thanked Sgt. Gamarra and said I would pass that information up my chain and suggested he also update Chief Jones.
April 22, 2010, at approximately 1130 hrs, I received a call from Jason B. Neal (BM 12-31-82, Palm Coast, phone number deleted). He advised that he heard that I was looking for him. I explained the purpose of my investigation and asked him about his arrest and vehicle tow on October 29, 2008, (BPD case# 08-7394). Mr. Neal said when he was arrested he was never asked any questions about a wrecker and never requested one. He said Saxon’s Wrecker towed his vehicle (called out of rotation). I told Mr. Neal that I would need to take a sworn statement from him at a later date. He agreed.
Writer’s note: On April 26, 2010, Jason Neal refused to accept a subpoena from SAO Investigator John Peper saying he would not comply. He said he changed his mind and did not want to talk or cooperate. He said did not want anything more to do with Bunnell or law enforcement. I spoke with Investigator Peper and advised him not to serve Jason Neal.
At approximately 1530 hrs, same date, I contacted Mr. Credolius L. Ware (Palm Coast, phone number deleted). I explained the purpose of my investigation and he said he heard I was looking for him. I questioned him about his traffic stop and arrest. He said he has been arrested several times by the BPD. He said Gamarra stopped him on January 9, 2009, for a stop sign and pills (BPD case# 09-0221). He said he was sitting in the back of Gamarra’s car when Saxon’s Wrecker pulled up and towed his car. He said he never wanted his car towed and never gave a wrecker preference to anyone. He said Murray searched his car and arrested him for the pills. Mr. Ware said a friend of his uses prescription Lortab and the pills belonged to the friend. He said he did not have a license and the car belonged to Katherine Morton. He said he wanted to leave the car but the wrecker showed up and towed the car. He again said no officer at the scene asked him anything about towing the car and he didn’t request anyone. He said the pill charge was later dropped. He said he had to pay $350.00 to the BPD then another $150.00 to Saxon’s Wrecker to get the car. I told Mr. Ware that I would need a sworn statement at a later date. He agreed and provided me with his contact numbers.
Writer’s note: On May 3, 2010, Mr. Credolius Ware responded to the Flagler SAO and provided a sworn videotaped statement. Please refer to the videotape for exact details. The BPD tow form for this stop was signed by John Murray as an “owner’s request”~ It was also called into the FSCO as such and was documented in the FCSO CAD.
At approximately 1930 hrs, same date, I received a call from Pamela LaBounty (Bunnell, phone number deleted). She said she was the mother of Megan LaBounty and she received a letter requesting her daughter contact me. I explained the purpose of my investigation. I told Mrs. LaBounty that I wanted to interview her daughter about the traffic stop on January 25, 2009, for reckless driving and possession of marijuana (BPD case# 09-624). Mrs. LaBounty said she was very upset about her daughter being stopped. She said her daughter likes the black boys and she believes that is why her daughter was stopped. She said Megan had some of her black friends with her at the time she was stopped. Mrs. LaBounty said her daughter told her that she was never asked anything about a wrecker and Saxon’s was the tow company. Mrs. LaBounty said she would have her daughter contact me for a statement.
Writer’s note: On May 14, 2010, Megan E. LaBounty (WF 06-26-90, Bunnell, phone number deleted) responded to the Flagler SAO and provided a sworn videotaped statement. She stated that BPD Officer Hosford was at the scene and no one ever asked her anything about a wrecker. She said the wrecker showed up and took her car. She said she never saw the marijuana that was seized and never saw any of the officers test it. She said she could not get her car on the weekend because the BPD was closed, so she had to pay extra. She said she had to pay the BPD money and then go to-Saxon’s Wrecker and pay them. The BPD tow form was signed by Officer Hosford but no wrecker designation (rotation or owner’s request) was checked. Please refer to the videotape for exact details.
April 23, 2010, at approximately 0815 hrs, Investigator Bisland and I responded to the BPD and began an evidence review of cases identified during this investigation. Upon arrival Chief Jones advised us that both John and Lisa Murray were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of our investigation. He said that Sgt. Gamarra would be the interim BPD evidence custodian and Administrative Assistant Angela Hatfield would assist him. He said the BPD would provide any assistance needed as well as any records or information. We obtained the corresponding BPD records and began a chain of custody review. Investigator Bisland and I responded to the BPD off site storage facility and continued our evidence and chain of custody review. During the evidence review we discovered discrepancies in some of the cases identified as well as a complete lack of organization within the BPD property and evidence facility.
At approximately 1630 hrs, same date, I received a call from Sgt. Gamarra. He said while he and Mrs. Hatfield were conducting an inventory of John Murray’s office they discovered several evidence envelopes cut open form the bottom with the contents missing. Sgt. Gamarra said these envelopes originally contained confiscated counterfeit currency. In addition to this he located an evidence envelope, originally containing seized drug funds; real currency, which was also cut from the bottom. This opened envelope now had counterfeit currency and a lesser amount real currency, intermixed ($1380.00 in real currency was originally seized and $740.00 in mixed, counterfeit & real currency, was now discovered inside, BPD case# 09-7310). He said he alerted Chief Jones and requested I respond back to the BPD to assist in the recovery, identification and securing of those items. I arrived at the BPD and the items were photographed, inventoried and the corresponding reports retrieved. I learned the evidence envelopes once containing the counterfeit currency was recovered from John Murray’s desk. I learned the evidence envelope with the mix of counterfeit and real currency was originally signed for by John Murray and recovered from Murray’s filing cabinet. John Murray’s office, where the recovered opened evidence envelopes were discovered, was also photographed. I took custody of the evidence and responded to HIU North in St. Augustine where the items were secured in the SAO evidence vault.
April 26, 2010, at approximately 1000 hrs, I responded to the BPD and turned over subpoenas to BPD office staff, Mary Giannotto. She advised that she would distribute them accordingly. I then responded to the Flagler SAO and began drafting additional subpoenas for BPD officers and staff and civilian subjects identified during this investigation. At approximately 1617 hrs, same date, Mr. Lloyd Freckleton and his son David Freckleton arrived at the Flagler SAO to provide sworn audio taped testimony. Please review the audio tape for exact details.
At approximately 1715 hrs, same date, I received a call from Bunnell City Commissioner, Elbert Tucker (phone number deleted). Mr. Tucker said that he understood that my office was conducting an investigation that resulted in two BPD officers being placed on administrative leave. I confirmed that the SAO was conducting an investigation but that I could not discuss the specific details. Mr. Tucker said that he knew of the complaint by John Rogers of John’s Towing and the allegation of wrecker favoritism by Lt. John Murray on behalf of Commissioner Jimmy Flynt. I asked Mr. Tucker about any first hand knowledge of wrecker favoritism or out of rotation wrecker calls by John Murray. He said that he did not have any knowledge of such but knew that Jimmy Flynt had a police radio issued to him. I asked him if all commissioners had a radio issued. He said he did not have a radio and did not think any of the other commissioners did either. I asked him about any other favoritism or potential misconduct by any members of the BPD or the City of Bunnell. Mr. Tucker said it was brought to his attention that Commissioner Flynt was dumping tires from his automotive business in the City of Bunnell dumpster located in the fenced Public Works facility. I told Mr. Tucker that I had had already heard an allegation of tire dumping in the city dumpster by Commissioner Flynt. I said that I understood the Public Works dumpster, designated for tires, had a fee associated with that specific dumpster. I said typically consumers are charged a disposal fee when they purchase tires. If the business owner is collecting that fee then disposing of the tires at the expense of another, the City of Bunnell, then it may be theft depending on what could be proved. I told Mr. Tucker that I would investigate further and thanked him for his call and his commitment to the City of Bunnell.
April 27, 2010, at approximately 0900 hrs, BPD Officer Matthew W. Mortimer (phone number deleted) responded to the Flagler SAO and provided a sworn videotaped statement. Please refer to the videotape for exact details.
At approximately 1000 hrs, same date, BPD Administrative Assistant Angela Hatfield (phone number deleted) responded to the Flagler SAO and provided a sworn videotaped statement. According to Mrs. Hatfield Lt. John Murray was the primary evidence custodian for the past two years. She said she was the back-up evidence custodian. She said she and Lt. Murray attended an evidence training class in Maitland Florida and they both received a certificate in evidence handling. She said there was once an arrest where currency was seized and when the suspect came back to retrieve it from the BPD, there was a counterfeit $20.00 bill mixed with his real currency (BPD case# 10-812). She said she had to take $20.00 of her own money and put in with the suspect’s money so it could be properly released. She said she was eventually reimbursed. Mrs. Hatfield had previously advised me that after taking the training class, she refused to have any involvement with the handling of physical evidence at the BPD. She said that she did not want to get in trouble because of the way John Murray handled the evidence. Please refer to the videotape for exact details.
At approximately 11:00 hrs, same date, BPD Office Staff Mary Giannotto (phone number deleted) responded to the Flagler SAO and provided a sworn videotaped statement. Please refer to the videotape for exact details.
April 28, 2010, at approximately 1105 hrs, BPD Sgt. Frank Gamarra responded to the Flagler SAO to provide a sworn videotaped statement. I questioned Sgt. Gamarra about any other evidentiary issues that may involve John Murray. According to Sgt. Gamarra Officer Hristakopolous and former BPD Officer Massaro approached him complaining that John Murray had taken drugs from evidence. Sgt. Gamarra said according to Massaro he knew about it from Murray’s ex-girlfriend, Dawn Madden, who called and complained to Massaro. Apparently Officer Hristakopolous had an issue of an incorrect amount of marijuana discovered during a review of one of his cases. Please refer to the videotape for exact details.
For an analysis of the report, see
“State Report Details Disturbing Patterns at Bunnell PD and Favors For Commissioner Jimmy Flynt“