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Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Neat Reprimanded Over Errors in Cocaine Seizure That Affected Case

| April 18, 2016

sgt jason neat

Sgt. Jason Neat in a department-issued photo.

Flagler County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Neat faces a written reprimand  for “unsatisfactory or incompetent performance” uncovered in an internal investigation following allegations that drug evidence against an individual was manipulated to make it look worse than it was, thereby aggravating his potential prison sentence. (See the full investigation below.)

Christopher Demon Lang was sentenced to 10 years in prison last April in Flagler County Circuit Court on a cocaine trafficking charge. But had his lawyer, Bryan Lambert, not uncovered a serious error in the evidence submitted against him, Lang could have faced up to 30 years in prison.

Lang, whose street name is “Man Man,” is no victim. His first felony conviction locally goes back 17 years, on the sort of drug-trafficking charge he’d be habitually arrested some two dozen times since, including at least 14 times when he’s been either on bail or on probation, mostly on drug charges. He served three stints in state prison before his latest sentence: the barbed-wire tattoo on his left arm is more than symbolic.

When he was slapped with his next-to-latest trafficking charge he agreed to a plea that would have resulted in another six-year sentence. That was on a trafficking charge from 2012. He was out on bond, awaiting sentencing, when the sheriff’s office got  a search warrant for his 302 East Drain Street house, and found cocaine there.

How much cocaine, however, became the question: as a prosecutor conceded to a sheriff’s investigator during the internal affairs investigation, “the search warrant return did to match the evidence submittals which didn’t match the 707 [the charging affidavit] and didn’t match the photographs.”

Three baggies of crack cocaine had been originally inventoried from the search: one of 25.8 grams, one of 6.1 grams, and one of about 1 gram, for a total of 32.9 grams. Somehow, the bags later turned into a baggie of 57 grams and one of 13 grams, or a total of 70 grams, according to Lang’s attorney. How? Because, he concluded, the 13-gram bag was from another search warrant served on Booe Street the same day, and the 57 grams had been the result of multiple searched combined into one bag.

There were discrepancies, the internal affairs investigation found, but no “intermingling of evidence from different cases.”

Had Lambert not detected the discrepancies, Lang would have faced the more serious prison term. Lambert last fall contacted local media about the issue. When the News-Journal’s Tony Holt asked the sheriff’s office about it in mid-November, it launched the internal investigation. The results of that investigation were released late Friday, along with the results of a second, unrelated investigation, that one into the false arrest of Bunnell’s Dakota Ward in March. (See that story here.) It is not unusual for public agencies to release unflattering news on a Friday afternoon or evening, when fewer people are paying attention.

Discrepancies and a missing bag of crack are left unexplained.

Neat had been recently promoted to sergeant after a spotless, 13-year career at the sheriff’s office when the internal investigation was launched. He’d been in charge of the Drain Street case. Detectives executing the search warrant there had documented the discovery and seizure of the original amounts of cocaine totaling 32 grams, along with a zip-lock bag containing another piece of crack. By the time Neat prepared a supplemental report, the amounts had increased to the larger total, the investigative report shows. But investigators never found the zip-lock bag, which was never entered into evidence, according to the investigative report. (What’s clearer is that evidence was collected from several locations that day.)

When the internal affairs investigator asked Neat “why there were three items of cocaine listed on the Search Warrant Inventory and Return and only two items of cocaine entered into evidence,” his answer pointed to the day’s apparent confusion and lack of enough personnel at the scenes. “He said there was so much going on that day and he was the supervisor in charge,” the report states. “He said he ran out of people and had to become the case agent for the house even though he was running the entire operation which included several arrest teams and arrest warrants as well as Bunnell Police Department because it was in their jurisdiction.” (Detective Mark Moy filled out the 707 at Neat’s request, though Neat did not provide the gram amount on the 707 to Moy; he did not remember who had provided that amount.)

That day, the sheriff’s office was serving 23 narcotics warrants and four search warrants.

But he did not personally examine the content of evidence envelope as they were being brought out. The discrepancy would have turned up, he said, “when he finally brought the items back to the Operations Center and recorded line for line what was in the envelopes that he saw and witnessed,” the report states. He could not remember what had happened to the missing piece of crack. “He said it could have been lost at some point,” the report states. Neat had been unaware of the missing zip-lock bag (and denies ever seeing it) until he was told of the missing bag in the internal affairs interview.

Neat told the internal investigator that the amount found at Lang’s Drain Street house “was over the trafficking amount of 28 grams and it wouldn’t have mattered to later amend the amount to the higher amount found because the charge would stay the same,” the report states.

The investigation found that Neat “should have made sure that his Search Warrant Inventory and Return information matched what was in the manila envelopes prior to leaving” the Drain Street address, and that he should have compared the inventory and return document with the evidence/property receipt and his own supplement.

“There is no explanation as to why there is 25.8 grams of cocaine on the Inventory and Return,” the investigation concludes, “or why there is an amount of 31.6 grams of cocaine noted on Christopher Lang’s 707, or where the missing zip lock bag containing crack went.”

Based on his spotless past, a commander’s recommendation in Neat’s case was that disciplinary action, which he has 10 days to appeal, be limited to a written reprimand. The internal affairs investigation had been completed on April 7.

Sgt. Jason Neat Internal Investigation.

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26 Responses for “Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Neat Reprimanded Over Errors in Cocaine Seizure That Affected Case”

  1. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    ‘Neat told the internal investigator that the amount found at Lang’s Drain Street house “was over the trafficking amount of 28 grams and it wouldn’t have mattered to later amend the amount to the higher amount found because the charge would stay the same,” the report states.’

    Every single lawyer with a client should ask for a retrial if Neat was involved in evidence collection or accounting, since apparently the true amount of something collected doesn’t really matter according to him.

  2. Bc. says:

    This department is so screwed up not the rank and file but from the top on down to the supervisor’s. It’s a joke that this sheriff has not been removed from his command. This county and department will be so much better when manfre is gone he never should have been elected. This guy had no experience in running a sheriff dept but some how got elected its for him to go.

  3. jim says:

    We have a election this year get out and vote !

  4. Gladfly says:

    “The only difference in cops and the public is they have the keys to the jail house.”

  5. Anon says:

    No they don’t get fired they get a pat on the back ..Had that been anyone else that wasn’t in the (good ole boy network) they would have been demoted and or terminated ….

  6. happeningnow says:

    Does Bunnell have a police dept. now?

  7. David S says:

    B.C I agree with you,Flagler voters please we need to elect someone with law enforcement experiance no more lawyers as you can see from the recent articles and comments this department needs to clean house.

  8. proud yankee says:

    We should all hope to someday be employed in a field where its just about impossible to get fired from…….

  9. Joe says:

    What kind of world have we created when someone can do so much time in prison for a non violent drug offense. Out of experience I must say the Flagler county Sheriff’s Office is crooked and unprofessional

  10. nowYOUknow says:

    How about this… Don’t distribute cocaine – then you don’t have to worry about it. Pretty simple stuff.

  11. RT says:


    The biggest complaint I’ve heard since Manfre took office is the depletion of proper staffing all in the name of saving money. We all know that in public service, when cutting budgets, somewhere there’s an affect. There has been numerous complaints in comments about staffing levels on other stories on this site. If someone sat down to figure out how much money the Manfre run Sheriffs Office owes the city of Palm Coast due to not staffing patrol per contract agreement over the last three years it would be substantial (no one wants to touch that issue though). The Manfre administration has been a failure since the day before day one and really, I cannot wait to see him voted out. The FCSO is an embarrassment under his watch and it’s a shame because there are quite a few good employees there that do the best they can despite all the negative he’s brought. Pinning that badge on and strapping on the duty belt should give one a sense of pride as they ready themselves to go out and serve the community. That feeling has dulled for many. MANFRE OUT IN 2016!!!

  12. Concerned Citizen says:

    Here’s a thought. Don’t deal drugs and you won’t be in this situation to begin with. I have no sympathy for someone who deals drugs and then gets caught. Especially a repeat offender. You just got lucky this time and got someone to fight your sentencing down. By the way why let someone bond who has multiple priors just so they can do it again. After the second time I’m sorry sir there is no bond set on your charge.

    In regards to FCSO here we have another example of poor Law Enforcement work in an agency that is ripe with Ethics, Leadership and Performance issues. Deputies in general can’t seem to spell correctly or count for that matter. And in regards to ethics there are none. A good majority seem willing to lie on an official report. I thought law enforcement officers swore an oath. It seems non existent here. And ALL of these problems point to Manfre and poor leadership. If you have a boss who doesn’t care then your troops won’t care. Again leadership starts at the top. LEAD by example.

    It’s time for some outside interest in this department. I seem to recall the Supervisor of elections was audited by the county? Maybe the same needs to be done to the SO. Not just an audit but a formal investigation into procedures and everything else. Perhaps Flagler Live can get that started? Would be great to help seal Manfre not getting re-elected. I wonder if the state attorneys office or FDLE would be interested in some of the goings on.

    I should further clarify that I am not accusing all deputies of being dirty. I know quite a few who try to do an great job. However it gets overshadowed when you have a dirty Sheriff and supervisors to boot. Time to clean house..

  13. No Mercy says:

    I got NO PROBLEM with what the officer did. The “creep” has poisoned thousands of kids…Maybe YOUR kids or grandkids. The SOB had been in state prison twice. Busted for dealing drugs 14 times. I’m NO fan of authority but sometimes they get it RIGHT !!!

  14. Jim Bob says:

    Damned shame a Flagler Countian cannot be elected High Sheriff of Flagler County.

  15. ronl says:

    People are defending a criminal who was CAUGHT!?

  16. Rewind says:

    @nowYOUknow . Try telling that to Dakota G. Ward. You can’t pick convenient criminals when it makes you feel protected and call yourself non biased with a clean conscience. Ask the Regan and Bush administration about the distribution of cocaine.

  17. Retired law enforcement says:

    Seriously, this incident and the other with the false arrest is ‘BASIC POLICE WORK” ! I wonder what the hell else is going on in the FCSO?

  18. nowYOUknow says:

    How can you even compare the Dakota Ward thing to this? This is about a cocaine dealer almost, finally, getting more than a slap on the wrist for DEALING COCAINE… Guess what? he walks from this with some bs charge and goes on to continue dealing drugs. As far as I’m concerned, going after convenient criminals is fine with me. You’re lucky I’m not a cop – I would trump up the charges on “convenient” criminals every chance I got. Once you start breaking the law and endangering people, your rights are no longer valid.

    I never said I was non-biased. I am very biased. Keep doing everything by the book and see where that gets you ;)

  19. supercops says:

    Every cop wants to be a super cop in this county!!!

  20. Retired law enforcement says:

    Thank god you are not a cop! If the police cut corners because of what you say ‘convienant” criminals deserve it where will it go from there? Will the police start ‘FLAKING” people for traffic violations, then where are we?

    I have stated in past posts I’m a retired cop from up north. I investigated horrendous acts of violence and put away for ever some truly evil people but I always did it ‘fair and square” because as you see like in this case and the the ‘false arrest” case LOOK WHAT HAS HAPPENED!

  21. Joe says:

    No mercy, maybe people should teach their kids and grandkids right and wrong, instead of raising children to think snorting cocaine is ok. So it’s the dealers fault that your children are making bad decisions? No. Is it Coca-Cola’s fault that children are drinking sugar and getting cancer or the parents that let them think it’s ok to drink?

  22. nowYOUknow says:

    The guy has been dealing drugs for 17 years and has been arrested an insane amount of times. Because of some slick defense attorney – or because people like you who tip toe through the rules – this guy will continue to deal. God only knows how many people have been effected by his dealings (family members or innocent victims caught in his path) – but hey, maybe one day we’ll get him.

  23. Joe says:

    The war in drugs is over, let’s find solutions for people to make more money in a legitimate way, instead of busting the same non violent offender over and over. I’m willing to bet this man has a drug addiction himself that he is trying to maintain by selling these drugs, and guess what? This offender at some point was a child and grandchild. Maybe it isn’t the players we need to change but the game itself.

  24. Joe says:

    Also where would you suggest people buy their cocaine? Because they sure haven’t made it legal yet. There are millions and millions of people around the world affected by drug addiction. So until we figure out away to deal with it dont blame it on the low level dealers who 9 times out of ten have their own addiction diseases. Yes I believe if you get caught you should face your time. But to make it worse on an individual who is already in a bad place won’t help anything.

  25. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    Joe, cocaine is schedule II, meaning that it is as legal as adderall, ritalin, and oxycodone.

  26. Joe says:

    Yes exactly, but unlike the prescription pills you named there aren’t any doctors that prescribe cocaine so people must get it from street dealers

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