Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Plant City to seek outside review of commissioner's action in police chief investigation

PLANT CITY — The Plant City Commission voted Monday to seek an independent review from the state into whether Commissioner Billy Keel acted improperly during an investigation that led to the police chief's firing.

Keel requested Friday that the commission ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the Florida Commission on Ethics to review his actions leading up to former police Chief Steve Singletary's termination. After a two-minute discussion, the board voted 4-0 to send its internal investigative report to both agencies.

Keel made it clear that he supported the motion, but said City Attorney Ken Buchman advised him to abstain.

"It could cost him financially if he'd have to defend himself," Buchman said after the meeting.

Singletary, 45, was fired last month after he was accused of carrying on an extramarital affair while using sick time or on days he reported working. The father of three was discovered meeting with Melissa Hardwick, 35, by Hardwick's husband through the aid of a GPS tracker he attached to her car.

Singletary admitted to the affair but said it did not take place on city time.

Two days after the city suspended Singletary, Hardwick told city investigators that Keel texted a friend of hers, asking the friend to tell Hardwick to keep quiet about the affair.

During the meeting, Plant City Mayor Mary Thomas Mathis said she, not the city manager, would sign the letter forwarding the investigative report to the FDLE, as the city manager reports to commissioners, including Keel.

"They will do the investigation," Mathis said. "How long it will take, I don't know. As soon as they get back to us, I'm sure we'll have a statement out to you."

Keel refused to answer questions before or after Monday's meeting.

On Friday, in a letter to City Manager Greg Horwedel, Keel wrote: "… this whole thing puts a cloud over the city, and puts my fellow commissioners in an untenable position to be pressed to take investigative action of some kind against a fellow commissioner."

Commissioner Michael Sparkman said he supported the idea of further investigation by the state all along, if only so that a higher agency could cast aside any doubt currently hanging over the commission.

"I personally don't feel like he did anything wrong," Sparkman said after the meeting. "Just a young commissioner who got overzealous. But we need to clear the air."

Plant City to seek outside review of commissioner's action in police chief investigation 02/10/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 10, 2014 11:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sheriff's Office: Drug dispute preceded fatal Largo motel shooting

    Crime

    LARGO — A fight over drugs preceded the shooting death of a 47-year-old man Thursday night at a Largo motel, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Sunday.

    Angel E. Martinez, 24, is accused in the shooting death of Ricky Garland, 47, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. [Pinellas County Jail]
  2. Nearly 40 hospitalized on first day of Sunset Music Festival, on pace to exceed last year

    News

    To reduce the number of medical emergencies this year, sponsors of the Sunset Music Festival promised heightened security and safety measures during this weekend's event at Raymond James Stadium.

    Thousands of people crowd the main stage at the Sunset Music Festival on Saturday in the north Raymond James Stadium parking area. The temperature at the time of the photo was 92 degrees. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]
  3. Woman killed in overnight Temple Terrace apartment fire, city says

    Fire

    TEMPLE TERRACE — A woman died early Sunday as a result of a fire at an apartment complex, city officials said.

  4. Video: Indianapolis 500 drivers in fiery crash somehow walk away uninjured

    Auto racing

    Scott Dixon and Jay Howard avoided injury in a spectacular crash - or what Dixon labeled "a wild ride" afterward - during the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

  5. Homeland security chief defends Kushner's alleged proposal for 'back channel' to the Russians as 'a good thing"

    National

    Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, the lone administration official to speak out publicly about reports that Jared Kushner sought a back channel to communicate with the Russian government, defended the move, saying it was a "good thing" for the U.S. government.

    Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, listens during a meeting with small business leaders at the White House on Jan. 30. [Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford]