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Sheriff Fleming Restores to Full Rank Deputy Accused of Skimming Time, as Others Dissent

| December 14, 2012

Sheriff Don Fleming had previously decorated Sgt Jamie Roster, who’s in charge of K-9 units and is a Crime Suppression Team supervisor.

Note: the full Internal Affairs investigation is below.

Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming, in the closing days of his eight-year administration, has reached a settlement with the Police Benevolent Association, the cops’ union, following an Internal Affairs investigation of Jamie Roster, clearing Roster of the most egregious accusations he faced. Roster is the deputy accused of falsifying time sheets and taking in more than $8,406 in unworked hours in the six months between the end of June 2011 and Jan. 10, 2012.

Roster was a sergeant at the time of the investigation, which was triggered by several of the deputies he supervised in a K-9 unit, and was completed at the end of February 2012. He was demoted two ranks after the investigation, but kept his $52,500 salary.

On Friday, the sheriff’s office, in a news release, announced that Roster was re-instituted to Sergeant. His discipline: a one-day suspension without pay and a written reprimand “for failing to log in to his Mobile Date Terminal which is required by policy,” the release states. The release does not state that Roster was also given back pay of more than $1,000 for time he’d worked but not been compensated for, essentially erasing his financial penalty. He was for a period after March 22 on administrative leave with pay, pending his appeal of the decision.

The sheriff and the PBA shifted the blame for the discrepancies between time sheets and hours worked on a time-keeping system the sheriff and the PBA say must be audited externally. Remarkably, the settlement includes a revelation that time-keeping discrepancies such as Roster’s are systemic, with other deputies apparently having similar gaps between time worked and time reported. Those details had not been clear in the internal investigation, though in most organizations, any such discrepancies are usually dealt with very severely.

The settlement amounts to a pardon days before Fleming is scheduled to leave office (on Jan. 8) and yield to the new Sheriff, Jim Manfre, who defeated Fleming in the November election. The settlement triggered serious dissent within Fleming’s ranks, with some of his senior staff rallying around Roster, and others opposing the settlement. Especially compromised are the rank-and-file deputies who were supervised by Roster, and on whose testimonies the Internal Affairs investigation rested, in large part, as it found that Roster–who was running a lawn-care business at the time–was often not on duty even though time sheets or computer-assisted dispatch showed him to be so. Those deputies will once again be under Roster’s supervision.

Fleming was convinced that Roster would prevail all along.

“He’s going to win, that’s why I didn’t fire him,” Fleming said in a recorded, on-the-record interview in July that ranged over a variety of issues he was facing. “He’s going to win. Because our time-keeping system is no good. I don’t have $50,000 to put in a time thing in there. It’s old. We use old-fashioned shit where they write it. I guarantee you, in the long term, between you and me, you watch. He’s going to win.”

The sheriff was asked if, on principle, Roster had done something wrong, why he would not punish the deputy as he had two other deputies who had defrauded the agency. “On principle there’s a couple of things,” Fleming said. “He was the only person that we had trained that trained our K-9s, who’s certified in the state of Florida, number one. I decorated him the year before with the crime suppression team. He ran that. We had 55 felony arrests, $250,000 in funds taken back. His record at the sheriff’s office prior to that was impeccable. Very good. Excellent.”

Fleming conceded that Roster at the time had kept his $52,000 salary, but “only until the appeal is over. He is entitled to keep that salary until the appeal is done. When the appeal is done, he goes down to a deputy–if he loses.” But if he wins, Fleming said, by law he has to be re-instituted to his former rank. The sheriff noted at the time, when he was confident of victory, that not a single voter had made an issue of the Roster case with him.

“I feel like that if I’m guilty of anything,” Roster told the investigator in February, “I’m guilty of not properly tracking my time and not documenting every minute and just doing too much on my own.”

The release issued early this afternoon by the sheriff’s office states that “Mitigating facts presented during the grievance process revealed there is an agency wide issue on how Sheriff’s Office employees are recording their hours worked. While Sgt. Roster’s investigation revealed a policy violation, it also determined this was not an isolated incident.”

The release goes on: “In the agreement reached between attorneys for the Police Benevolent Association and the Sheriff’s Office, an external audit of time keeping practices and policies is required. A preliminary report from the audit conducted by the Law Offices of Allen, Norton & Blue indicates there are other deputies assigned to specialized units who have more hours unaccounted for than those of Sgt. Roster. Using the same formula as that used to compute Sgt. Roster’s hours, one deputy assigned to a specialized unit was missing 1032 work hours with another deputy having a deficit of 1267 hours.”

Deborah Johnson, the public information officer who issued the release, was asked who the two deputies with those hours were, and what documented report those findings were based on. “We do not have a final written report on the findings,” Johnson wrote back. “The two folks cited in the release were deputies assigned to specialized units and we do not have the names of the deputies. This was an audit conducted by outside counsel and we expect the written report next week.”

The release goes on: “Samplings of several deputies’ time keeping records were reviewed and indicated potential issues with the integrity of the agency’s time keeping system.” It then quotes Fleming saying what he had intimated in the July interview about an antiquated system. “We focused on providing technology for deputies to do their jobs on the streets. This investigation found an internal problem that we need to address,” Fleming is quoted as saying.

“Once completed, the external audit report will be shared with the transition team to help Sheriff-Elect James Manfre determine the best course of action to help the Sheriff’s Office move forward,” the release concludes. The sheriff’s office considers the Roster case closed.

“Obviously something failed in the sheriff’s office that allowed this to happen, so we need to analyze what the failures were and make changes,” Manfre said this afternoon. “I can’t comment on it right now because we are reviewing the situation, I’ll be speaking to counsel, I’ll be reviewing the IA, and we’ll be making a separate determination, which we will.” By separate determination, Manfre specified that he does not mean issuing different or further punishment, as far as Roster is concerned. “I cannot issue additional punishment,” Manfre said. Rather, he said, “everything will be evaluated, from the whole system that allowed this to occur, from Mr. Roster right on up.”

Flagler County Sheriff’s Internal Investigation, Jamie Roster Case, 2012

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18 Responses for “Sheriff Fleming Restores to Full Rank Deputy Accused of Skimming Time, as Others Dissent”

  1. The spiel says:

    What a waste of paper, ink and resources and not in that order. How do you whistle that Mayberry song.

    The whole department needs an attitude adjustment and do please remind them that they work for the tax payers of Flagler County.

    Such chutzpah.

  2. Riley says:

    We do have skunks in Flagler county, Florida.

  3. PJ says:

    I don’t know if I can agree here but one or two things things that are not covered in anything written in the article.

    Was this Officer a good Cop? If he made a mistake about his integrity but was a good Cop I say the reprimand is enough.

    But what if he was not really a good Cop? Usually other Cops don’t turn on other Cops unless there is something else wrong?

    Another HOWEVER, is the system that may have caused the problem?

    Here is where a very good Sheriff administrator will capitalize on the previous Sherrif’s mistake.

    Here is my question:

    If you know your bookkeeping system has a flaw and an officer can get in trouble like Jamie Roster why would you put a budget issue as the excuse?

    Let’s do the math everyone, you all got your pens and paper now?

    more than 1200 hoursX 165 0fficers = (a lot of money loss) difference for one office cost us over 8k in a mistake how many other mistakes does the payroll system make?

    Sounds like more than 50k to me.

    I don’t know but maybe this Cop has made a point at his expense and the new Sheriff Manfre could save money by making an investment in the system?

    Just my point of view……………………………….Good luck Manfre it looks like you are really going to need it !!!!

  4. farmer says:

    This is why a huge amount of why county people does not respect our LAW ENFORCEMENT personel !!!!!!

  5. henry says:

    Corruption at its best. Shame on you Fleming. Good thing you’re history.

  6. Amanda says:

    Well, we have to start somewhere. Hopefully the ousting of the top good ole boy will help…

    • Reality Check says:

      The entire system is broken, the next Sherriff (Manfre) is a proven loser, ego-maniac and not willing to work with any other officials. This type of position needs to be either brought up through the ranks, or interviewed like a CEO. This needs to be a person who has a proven track record in law enforcement, not an elected official; at least Fleming had a career in law enforcement before coming here. God help us with this proven knuckle head in charge, he failed once but its politics so lets give him another chance; like I always say “Only in government is it okay to do a bad job”

  7. Umm says:

    This just disgusts me. Leaves me almost speechless.

  8. bullgator2410 says:

    Skunks and chameleons…..check Major O’Brien’s personal files. They are open under sunshine law ;-)

    • PC Aviator says:

      Did anyone read the entire investigative report? At the end of the document on page 29 it is written:

      “Sergeant Roster’s time sheets were examined and it appears impossible to prove how many hours Sergeant Roster worked on any given pay period as his time sheets do not match the “Unit Log Listing” and are inaccurate as to documenting days and hours worked. ”

      Then a few lines down…”This Investigation has sustained the …charges….”

      You can’t “prove” anything but you “sustain” the allegations?

      The report is written by the Cpl. Nathan Flach who conducted the internal investigation and was signed on February 27, 2012. I have to question how a deputy/investigator can say that he cannot prove something but then sustain the charges. That is like saying, “I don’t have enough evidence to prove the drugs are yours but I am going to arrest you and put your mug shot out for the whole world to see.”

      There are too many coincidences to say this does not smell of a witch hunt by an overzealous upper echelon within the sheriffs office. Ask yourself this…
      -Is it a coincidence that the time that was documented by Deputy Smith on Roster began right after O’brien was appointed interim chief deputy?
      -Is it a coincidence that O’brien was the person who initiated the complaint?
      -Is it a coincidence that “CPL” Nathan Flach was promoted to “SERGEANT” a few weeks after this report was closed?
      -Is it a coincidence that the investigative report was signed off on by O’brien as the “reviewing supervisor” on February 27th…just days after he became the permanent chief?
      -Is it a coincidence that Roster said in his first conversation with Cpl. Flach that “it was all political because (Roster) pissed on Major O’brien’s cape.” (page 3 of the report)

      It is so easy to be in a powerful position and abuse that power. You hear about it every day on the news about police officers abusing their power. Isn’t is possible that if they abuse that power against the public that they can also abuse that power internally…when someone “pisses on their cape?”

      Bullgator: I believe you turned over the right rock on this one. WOW!

  9. shark says:

    Both of these clowns should be in jail

  10. Vic says:

    Just another example of how misguided and misdirected this sheriff’s office is. And I quote: ” I don’t have $50,000 to put in a time thing in there. It’s old. We use old-fashioned shit where they write it. I guarantee you, in the long term, between you and me, you watch. He’s going to win.” What a prime example of a complete lack of leadership or accountability. Through personal and vicarious experience I have seen multiple instances where deputies egregiously abuse their authority. And who can blame them? Look at the instances (I won’t be specific for fear of reprisals) where deputies have been caught consuming and abusing narcotics. Instead of facing serious reprimand they are put on paid leave to seek “treatment and counseling” Unfortunately the rest of us get arrested and go to jail under similar circumstances.

  11. Geezer says:

    Where else but Floriduhh, where the Tea Party-puppet governor is a massive Medicare/Medicaid thief.
    Give Don Flemming a break–he was swimming with the current folks. He fits right in.
    This was one of his “last licks.”

    When in Rome, do as the Romans.

    What did you folks expect? Honor and respect, the moral high ground?
    I don’t think so. This is the new Florida.

  12. John Doe says:

    What a joke………. Did Roster give you some kind of discount on your lawn care? I’m so glad to see you leave Mr. Flemming. How does it feel that your own men are glad to see you go? You have accomplished nothing while Sheriff except for proving that you have a broken moral compass and you don’t have an ethical bone in your body. You truly are a poor excuse for a law enforcement officer.

    Good luck Mr. Manfre, you have a big mess to clean up.

  13. wassupsays says:

    I read it was the deputies that were supervised by Roster that saw him mowing lawns as a side job that turned him in since he was on the clock doing it. The Sgt’s own squad turned him in. How come that’s not in the report??? Something ain’t right here?

    Too many chiefs and not enough indians. Maybe this explains why we never see deputies on the road anymore. Perhaps our city fathers need to examine this more to see if taxpayers in Palm Coast are getting the manpower we paid for in a contract with the FCSO.

  14. concerned citizen says:

    I can’t tell you the last time have seen a roving patrol car in my neighborhood. I have seen multiple patrol cars at the Kangaroo gas station at the interstate for hours at a time,in the medians on Belle Terre parked next to each other for hours at a time and in the middle of Town center sometimes 4-5 patrol cars all Deputies standing outside just hanging out. It does no good to report this to a supervisor because they are there as well. The Flagler County Sheriffs Office thinks that they are the best of the best…HAHA just ask Volusia or St. Johns County and see what they have t say about our sorry excuse for a law enforcement agency.

  15. Dadgum says:

    …and I have seen them talk to people as if they were dogs. No respect, courtesy or professionalism. It’s like they were all programmed like that. Actually, they remind me of Hitler’s “Brown Shirts”. Way to militaristic for society.

  16. confidential says:

    I agree with “concerned”as a Palm Coast resident.
    Now also we should demand the resignation of the one school Board Member as he is not a good example for the students and as our school district representative, if any of us is going to believe about his different recollection now of his contacts with Fleming.

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