Alphonso Perry is a 79-year-old resident of Bunnell. The most he’s ever had to do with the law over the past many years was a traffic ticket he got for going straight instead of making a right turn when he was in a right-turn lane at State Road 100 and Belle Terre Parkway a little over a year ago. He requested a hearing but eventually paid his $166 fine. Adjudication was withheld. He’s had other traffic issues–speeding, proof of insurance–but nothing since 2010.
On Monday (Aug. 20), he turned himself in at the Flagler County jail at 2:48 p.m. He thought there was a warrant out for his arrest. Someone had called him and told him so, and that he could clear up the matter by paying $2,000.
Perry was being lied to-scammed, as older people frequently are, and as the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has warned on repeated occasion over the years. But Perry didn’t know that Monday.
But as if the scam wasn’t grievous enough, Perry’s voluntary surrender at the county jail turned into an ordeal of its own: It was two and a half hours before he was brought into the booking area–where according to policy he should not have been brought in to start with, if a warrant check had been conducted–and six hours before he was finally released and driven home.
In the meantime, because of an especially busy booking period, a relatively new detention deputy, a shift change and what the Sheriff’s Office described as a first (“this has never occurred in the past,” Chief Steve Cole wrote of an individual turning himself in on a non-existent warrant), Perry sat for three hours in a jail holding cell.
It was 8 p.m., more than five hours after he had turned himself in, that a corrections deputy began working on his file and discovered that there was no warrant out for Perry’s arrest–that he had, in fact, himself been the victim of a crime.
“Regardless of an individual’s age, when something like this happens that is wrong,” the Sheriff’s Chief Mark Strobridge said this afternoon. “These kinds of things shouldn’t happen. That is why Chief Cole is taking immediate steps so that it does not happen. It’s very regretful that this would happen to anybody of any age.” Steve Cole is in charge of the jail. “Nobody at the FCSPO wants anybody to be wrongly accused or be wrongly held or detained,” Strobridge added.
The incident was embarrassing as much for Perry as it as for the Sheriff’s Office, it exposed weaknesses at the jail’s “intake” juncture, led Sheriff Rick Staly to order immediate remediation, including the installation of a Rapid ID device that checks for warrants before an individual is taken into the secure booking area, and a review of why the policy in place designed to keep individuals from reaching the secure area–and be held in a cell–before their status is checked was not followed. The incident also resulted in disciplinary measures for at least one corrections deputy.
“I know that the sheriff has directed that before you bring anybody in, regardless of their age or how busy processing is,” Strobridge said, “They will verify warrants before they bring anybody inside.”
An issue that could have been resolved in a few minutes takes six hours as assumptions and a shift change obstruct a resolution.
The following is based on memos and documents FlaglerLive obtained on request Wednesday and Thursday, ostensibly all the documents relating to the Perry incidents, including a timeline with time stamps written by Cole today when we noted to the Sheriff’s Office that documents provided Wednesday included only sporadic time references.
Perry turned himself in at the jail’s public lobby at 2:48 p.m. Monday. He spoke to Karen Perry–no relation–the clerk at the window, telling her he needed to turn himself in on a warrant. Karen Perry informed Christopher Lewis, a booking deputy, of Alphonso Perry’s arrival. Alphonso took a seat in the lobby and “could have exited the building if he wished to,” according to Cole’s memo–though it’s uncertain how far an individual might have gotten, leaving the jail’s grounds with jail officials under the impression that he has a warrant out for his arrest: at that point, no one had checked, or had reason to think Perry’s warrant was bogus.
Some time later, Sgt. Randy Vickers notices Alphonso Perry still in the lobby. The time is not clear, because Vickers apparently had contact with Perry twice in the lobby. “I had asked him if he was being helped and Mr. Perry stated that he had given Karen Perry his information to confirm his warrant,” Vickers wrote in a memo. “At approximately 1645 Hrs while conducting
security rounds, I observed Mr. Perry still sitting in the lobby,” Vickers continued: that was two hours after Perry had arrived. “I then opened door # 15 and advised Mr. Perry that Booking was a little busy but they did not forgot about him and then I continued on to my office to prepare the shift briefing.”
It was 5:10 p.m. when Lewis asked another deputy, Justin Bailey, to bring him behind the locked doors into the secure, booking area of the jail: that’s where suspects are brought in to be processed. Perry told Vickers the next day that he thought the civilian clerk had checked Perry’s warrant. “I then questioned Deputy Lewis as to when does a civilian secretary verify warrants?” Vickers reported. “He stated ‘Never.’” Lewis has been on the job for two and a half years.
But neither Lewis nor Bailey processed Alphonso Perry. He was placed in a holding cell.
At 6 p.m., Lewis went off duty. Sara Radford, a seven-year veteran deputy, took over booking. She had been handed a stack of pending bookings from the previous shift. “When I got to the folder for Alphonso Perry I only located a property sheet from his intake and 2 other intake documents that he had signed,” Radford reported. “Due to the fact that there was no 707 or any other supporting documents that reflected the reason he was brought into the jail I figured he might have a warrant that had not been printed out by the previous shift when he came in.” A 707 is an arrest affidavit or charging document associated with an individual’s arrest.
By then a criminal history had been completed on Perry but he was not fingerprinted nor were other booking functions carried out. Radford worked on other intakes. Booking typically is conducted on what would be called a first-come, first processed basis–whether it’s individuals being booked into the jail or individuals being processed out of it–with priority given to booking individuals brought in by patrol cops of various agencies: they get priority because the intent is to get the cops back on their patrols as soon as possible.
It was only at 8 p.m. that Radford got to Perry’s case, looking him up in a law enforcement database called Aegis. That would prove to be the first time all afternoon and evening that anyone at the jail had looked up Perry’s name to verify his warrant. “Once I had a chance I conducted a search in Aegis to see if I was able to locate a warrant in Alphonso Perry’s jacket, which I was not,” Radford reported. “I immediately called dispatch to inquire if they had confirmed any warrants or were showing any active [warrants] for Alphonso Perry, they had not and also showed no active warrant for this subject.”
Radford looked up a courthouse database. Same result. She spoke to Perry to find out how he’d ended up at the jail. “He had no idea why he was arrested aside from the fact that he had received a phone call telling him that he owed money and if he did not pay the owed amount that law enforcement would be sent to his house,” Radford wrote.
Radford called Cpl. Peter Descartes, her supervisor. Descartes in his memo says Radford contacted him at 6:50 p.m. “Reference a Subject by the name Perry, Alphonso B/M DOB 5-18-1939,” and was briefed on his situation. Descartes called the 911 center, where a teletype specialist conducted yet another search in the system and came up empty, but said he’d continue searching and let Descartes know what turns up. Descartes contacted Cmdr. Glenn Davis. Cole was also contacted.
According to Cole’s timeline, Descartes and Davis entered the booking area at 8:15 p.m. and spoke with Alphonso Perry, who was still in the holding cell. Perry again told his story. Descartes and Davis concluded that he’d been scammed. Deputies returned Perry’s property to him.
At 8:44 p.m., Descartes was directed to drive him home to Peach Street in an agency vehicle. It was never made clear how Perry, who could not be contacted, made it to the jail that afternoon.
“Once we arrived at his residence I told Mr. Perry that I was sorry for all of the confusion but, I was glad that he was not a victim of the attempted scam,” Descartes wrote in his memo.
Cole, listing “contributing factors” in the incident, wrote in his memo that booking had been “unusually heavy” that day, with a total of 11 intakes and releases conducted by Lewis and “additional intakes left for night shift to complete. Deputy Lewis is a fairly new booking deputy and possibly became overwhelmed.”
Cole, according to his memo, issued a directive pointing to an existing policy that “requires all arrest paperwork must be completed prior to the arresting officer/deputy bringing the arrested subject into the detention facility.”
Lewis is to receive remedial training as a booking deputy and “appropriate discipline for failing to verify a warrant before accepting a subject into our secured facility. All booking deputies and supervisors will also be getting additional training and reviewing the incident in after-action fashion, as agencies do after a serious issue.
“We are going to look at where that fell apart as well,” Strobridge said of the initial contact with Perry in the lobby. “That should not have happened as well.” Strobridge said the presence of Rapid ID would resolve such an issue immediately.
“As Sheriff Staly said many times,” Strobridge said, “we work under the motto that it is an honor to serve and a duty to protect. Protecting means everybody, even when they may think that they have a warrant or something like that. We always need to be right all the time, and it’s very regrettable that something like this would happen.”
That is a sad story. These phone scammers are horrible!
Very sad that this was allowed to happen …..
Josh Davis says
I wonder how this “dirtbag” appreciated the “Green Roof Inn” and it’s blinking neon “Vacancy” sign. It’s all fun and games until it’s you. Wake up people. No person should ever be held on a warrant until the warrant is confirmed. This is unacceptable. This should never happen. Maybe someone more interested in being an Administrator and a leader instead of playing John Wayne would’ve ensured this fundamental protocol was in place. Disgusting and embarrassing.
Wheres the family to help this man
The FSCO and Green Roof Inn has ALOT of disorganization in it. Sorry for the scam pulled on the elderly man .
Jane Gentile-Youd says
OMG! My heart goes out to this obvious very decent elderly gentleman, Mr. Perry. How can I send him a little gift to say how sorry I am that he, at his age, tried to do the right thing and got further stuck in the mud.?
However I am confident that this will not happen again under Sheriff Staly’s watch..Even so we owe something to Mr. Perry.
Sounds about right. Sheriff must of been out for a photo op. There are legit inmates that waited 6-7 hours to be booked and only 8 or 9 people were arrested today. If the sheriff had qualified staff they would be efficient. These kids here in Flagler at the FCSO need to take some shadowing classes from Volusia and other counties. Sad, sad, sad!! This 79 year old doesn’t have much time left, his time is valuable—FCSO should be paying him a settlement! It’s s good thing the poor old fella didn’t have a stroke or heart attack. There’s no excuse for this. Inept FCSO staff!!!!!!
Build a new jail says
I think we should learn from this and build a brand new 12 million dollar jail. The old jail was remodeled and has mold in some of the bathrooms. I heard an inmate was sick after using the shower.
Anonymous PC says
If you only knew. Rapid ID already exists in the jail. It is already in policy to be utilized the moment someone walks through the doors, as well as one of the last things completed before a subject is released. With all of the extreme failures that have taken place at the jail since Sheriff Staly took office, it is hard to believe the community would put up with anymore incompetence out of jail command staff. “No one will be loosing their job”. “Some folks might get moved to other areas of the agency”.
Sheriff Staly, it’s time for actionable changes to be made to your command staff within the jail, instead of Chief Strobridge spreading falsehoods to the populace. These failures occur because of the failure of command. More of the same is not going to fix old problems. New leaders with experience other than with this agency, such as yourself can make a true difference.
Also, it would be interesting to note how many employees were on shift that day working mandatory sixteen hour shifts. Something to look into?
@Attempted crimes are crimes too
FCSO, or perhaps FDCF, ought to investigate the attempted scam – no? It certainly sounds like he was the victim of attempted exploitation and not merely a cruel prank. Maybe start with Mr. Perry’s phone records?
So failure to follow protocol … kind of like the cop that was just fired for “not following protocol”? Sounds like the sherriff has favorites:)
Concenrned Citizen says
This Sheriff’s Office continues to have issues.
It wasn’t so long ago that a young man was falsely arrested on a warrant because of like names. No one did their due diligence then either. He was actually booked and finger printed. That mess took a good bit of correction to make right and now the young man in question has to live with it.
Having worked in Law Enforcement for many years I understand the jail gets busy. However you’re dealing with a persons future and a little fact checking never hurt anyone. And if a line deputy can’t handle a situation you call a Supervisor ASAP. The lobby personnel apparently need more training also.
Sheriff Staly you continue to have issues with your agency but you don’t publicly address them or try to correct them. Time to stop show boating and clean up your act. Leadership starts from the top and you haven’t done much lately except get your name in the paper.
As for you phone scammers out there I hope everyone follows an example of telling you to go pound sand. We are onto your various tactics. Unless you are a Law Enforcement Officer talking to me in person I won’t discuss things on the phone.
Seeing how the Sheriff LOVES being on TV, for all the free publicity, does anyone know if this was on the news?
$5 bucks Says this will go Viral says
Such a horrible story, indicative of the times as far as the scammers go, what an Epic Fail on Flagler County Sheriff’s office. I read this story then checked my Facebook, this was already posted on there already twice by some local friends, wouldn’t be surprised if this makes Fox or CNN national news soon.
Scams are everywhere these days. Sad that this man had to sit in jail holding all that time when he did nothing wrong.
Rob Jr says
Isn’t this a case of false imprisonment?
False imprisonment occurs when a person is restricted in their personal movement within any area without justification or consent.
Jason B says
It’s unfortunate he was the victim of a hoax, but it shouldn’t have taken them 6 hours to figure this situation out.
This innocent old man sat in a cell with other criminals. He could have been seriously injured or worse. And why? Because no one did their jobs. I mean seriously what is wrong with the police in Flagler county? Just seems like every week we are reading another screw up,its constant. We need IA here looking around.
I hope Mr. Perry calls Morgan & Morgan
Epic fail, as a retired law enforcement professional, I don’t even know how that could happen
The Sheriff needs to give someone their walking papers……there is NO excuse for this!!!!! It appears the Sheriff is too anxious to fill his green roof inn. Maybe he should start putting some of his own in there and they will have more compassion and respect for those who pay their salaries.
After I get these calls, I call ,em back, repeatedly, since redial is only one click on the smartphone, and I’m retired and home most of the time, and watching TV its easy to redial and screw up their telemarketing goals, and tank their call metrics, they get real made and eventually block my number
What is Happening to the world says
Has anyone asked Karen Perry how or why it would be a good idea to let someone with a warrant just sit in a lobby… what if they were a bad person with an active warrant? What is going FCSO… too concerned with a ‘sick building?’. What about our citizens… that poor old man treated so poorly. All I can think about is him not eating dinner. This is SICKENING. And is this the Staly and Strobridge show? Where is the under sheriff Bisland? WE never hear from him!!!
I continually receive telephone calls from scammers claiming they are with the IRS and have orders to have the local police arrest me. I have also seen this with the electric company (they claim to be sending someone to turn off your electricity if you don’t pay them with a debit card).
When people scam call me, I know I shouldn’t, but I “press 1 to talk to a live agent”. Then I’ll either pretend to be Jimmy Buffett, trolling the scammer along waisting their time until I tel them to get a different job, or i’ll just come right out and tell them to get a different job. It depends on how much time I have at the moment.
One time, a lady with an Indian accent actually responded to me when I said “why do you do this job?” she said she had to, it was the only job she could get to support her family. Sad. I told her there has to be something else she can do, I told her to start her own business. Oddly enough, we actually had a long conversation. Towards the end of the call, I felt bad for her so told her she could keep calling me, but she was never going to get my credit card, she kinda laughed, and said ok.
Lock up Coffey and the inept BOCC for 6-7 hours……give our pocket books a rest! McLaughlin and Hansen need to be voted out of office and replaced with new blood!!!!! We need elected officials who will stand up to Coffey and stop him from leading the BOCC around by the nose. Coffey’s contract needs to be revised removing his golden parachute and he needs to be fired and criminally charged!
@ Anonymous says…uhm, what? How did this come back to the BOCC & Coffey rather than, oh I don’t know, Staly maybe?