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Port Richey police chief violated state law by failing to disclose assets, ethics report says

PORT RICHEY — Police Chief Dave Brown and his wife own the home where they live. Brown, who also served a stint last year as interim city manager, listed that home on his financial disclosure forms.

But investigators say he failed to list two other properties that he and his wife own — a mobile home in Port Richey and some property in North Carolina — as well as the rental income they collect on that mobile home.

And those omissions led a state ethics board to find probable cause that Brown violated state law by failing to disclose all of his assets.

The Florida Commission on Ethics made the initial finding last month, based on the recommendation of an advocate with the Florida Office of the Attorney General.

Brown can either seek a hearing with the ethics commission or enter into a settlement with the agency, according to commission spokeswoman Kerrie Stillman.

Brown declined to comment Friday.

On his disclosure forms for 2008, 2009 and 2010, Brown failed to disclose $8,400 a year in rental income he received for the mobile home, which he rents to his son and daughter-in-law, according to a report by ethics commission advocate Melody Hadley.

Brown also failed to include intangible property assets in a family trust valued at $10,651, Hadley wrote.

His 2009 form makes no mention of the property the couple owns in Sylva, N.C., the report said. Nor did his 2008 and 2009 forms include the rental property in Port Richey, the report said.

During the investigation, Brown told investigators that his wife, Katherine, completed his financial disclosure forms — "however, he acknowledged that he signed the forms and is responsible for the content," the report said.

When asked about the property in North Carolina, Brown said "he does not know why his wife failed to list the property," the report said.

Certain state and local officials are required to disclose their financial interests, including property ownership, sources of income over $2,500 and intangible interests (such as a family trust) over $10,000.

Penalties for ethics violations can range from a fine or public censure to suspension or removal from office, Stillman said.

The investigation into Brown resulted from an ethics complaint filed last year by former city contractor Kevin Hamm, who became a regular critic of city officials.

Port Richey police chief violated state law by failing to disclose assets, ethics report says 06/29/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 29, 2012 9:06pm]
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