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Convicted former police chief dies

Don Anderson always denied his participation in the drug trafficking her went to federal prison for.

Former Chiefland police Chief Don Anderson, once convicted of drug trafficking while working in law enforcement, died Wednesday at North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville.

Anderson, 66, a former sheriff's deputy in Pinellas and Pasco counties, was released from federal prison earlier this year after serving part of a 24-year sentence stemming from a drug conspiracy conviction.

Anderson was convicted in 1990. He was accused of participating in a conspiracy to distribute drugs from a police evidence room with Darwin Salls, a Pinellas County drug smuggler who worked as an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The father of seven children, including several who have their own law enforcement careers, Anderson always denied participating in the drug conspiracy and insisted that the federal agents and others who testified against him at his trial were liars.

Anderson said the drug transactions that became a part of the criminal case against him were actually part of a drug investigation he was conducting while using Salls as an informant.

Before taking over as police chief in Chiefland in 1983, Anderson was a lieutenant in charge of detectives at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and previously worked as a deputy in Pinellas County. He also worked as a police officer in Largo, St. Petersburg Beach and Safety Harbor.

A native of Clearwater, Anderson had long suffered from heart problems and emphysema.

Funeral plans were incomplete late Wednesday. Knauff Funeral Home in Chiefland is in charge of arrangements.