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Family of slain sheriff's informer files wrongful-death suit

INVERNESS — The mother of a 27-year-old Citrus County Sheriff's Office informer killed during a drug deal in 2012 has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the agency.

Her claim: The Sheriff's Office failed to protect the identity of her daughter, Jamie Lee Seeger, and because of that, on the night of July 25, 2012, she was fatally shot inside her car in Crystal River.

"They were directly involved in her death, and I am 100 percent sure of that," said Wendy Moore, 46.

In front of a bank of TV cameras Friday morning, Moore's attorney, Bill Grant, announced that he had filed the lawsuit on behalf of Seeger's estate and was seeking to recover damages for negligence.

"What we're concerned about is the callous disregard for the safety and well-being of Jamie Seeger," Grant said.

Sheriff Jeff Dawsy declined to comment.

According to the lawsuit, Seeger agreed to become an informer for the Sheriff's Office in January or February 2012 and purchased drugs from various dealers under the supervision of the Sheriff's Office until the time she died.

About a month before she was killed, Sheriff's Office employees told Seeger that video and audio of drug deals in which she was involved were being released as part of the discovery in a drug prosecution case. After her name was released, the lawsuit alleges, she began getting threats. She told her case managers with the Sheriff's Office and asked for protection. She was told she would be fine, the suit says.

In December 2012, three men were charged with first-degree murder in the case.

Two of them — Lawrence Vickers and Marrio Williams — were listed as targets of drug stings. The third man, Curtis Wilson, is a relative of one of the men identified in the sting, Grant said.

Court records indicate that Vickers, a violent criminal who has had five stints in prison, suspected that Seeger was working with law enforcement. Once, he directly asked her if she was an informer. Another time, he refused to sell her drugs because he wasn't comfortable.

Despite this, according to court records compiled from the sheriff's own records, investigators continued to use Seeger on drug buys. The lawsuit contends that no protection or surveillance was provided for her safety.

When Seeger was shot in her car, the suit claims, the Sheriff's Office was monitoring or should have been monitoring the deal that resulted in her death.

"The defendant failed to exercise reasonable care in its assessment of the danger to (Seeger) and/or properly warn and protect her, and otherwise assign the highest priority in its operational decision and actions toward the safety and well-being of (Seeger)," the suit contends.

The suit seeks damages in excess of $15,000.

In a Sheriff's Office news conference in December 2012, Dawsy acknowledged that Seeger was an informer who bought drugs on behalf of his agency. While declining to discuss specifics, he insisted that his office had done everything possible to protect her.

Sheriff's officials say she wasn't working for them the night she was shot while buying drugs.

Moore and Grant contest that point and say the Sheriff's Office has not been willing to release information that would clear up many of their questions.

Grant said Florida Department of Law Enforcement protocols require the Sheriff's Office to document the closing of an informer's file.

"One of the reasons, clearly, that they don't want to provide that information is because they never closed the file, because Jamie continued to work as a confidential informant," he said.

Contact Danny Valentine at (352) 848-1432 or dvalentine@tampabay.com. Follow @HernandoTimes.

Family of slain sheriff's informer files wrongful-death suit 07/11/14 [Last modified: Friday, July 11, 2014 9:11pm]
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