LAKELAND — Lakeland’s longtime city attorney, Tim McCausland, is resigning following his arrest in an undercover sex sting operation.
Mayor Bill Mutz said that he has received an official letter of retirement from McCausland, effective immediately, that was delivered to the desk of City Manager Tony Delgado for processing on Friday morning.
Mutz said the decision to retire was made entirely by McCausland.
“I respect his decision,” the mayor said. “He determined it was the opportune time for him to do so.”
Lakeland commissioners will discuss the process of replacing McCausland and the next steps at their agenda study scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 18.
Until then, Mutz said he expects Palmer Davis, Lakeland’s assistant city attorney, will oversee daily operations of the city attorney’s office as he routinely did in McCausland’s absence. The mayor indicated Davis, a longtime city employee, is a potential candidate to take over McCausland’s position.
“He’s very well established and has an extensive city background, that would be a logical choice in my view,” Mutz said.
McCausland, 69, was one of eight individuals arrested Wednesday in Brandon as part of an undercover sex sting conducted by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Undercover officers had posted fake ads on an adult escort website to lure people to a hotel located near South Falkenburg Road and East Adamo Drive in an operation designed to take aim at human trafficking. After arriving, each individual met with an undercover detective.
McCausland was arrested about 11:40 a.m. Wednesday and faces a charge of violating a county ordinance described as “unlawful acts as a precursor to prostitution.” He was released from jail on a $250 bail at 8:47 p.m. Wednesday.
According to Hillsborough County records, the county ordinance McCausland is accused of violating involves a “coordinated meeting or contact between two or more persons on private property which originates through a solicitation, advertisement or display on media available to the general public, on the Internet or on the World Wide Web.”
During these meetings, it’s illegal for participants to expose their breasts or genitals, fondle the other party’s genitals or for one party to request these acts from the other, according to the ordinance.
“Operations like this help us to not only seek out possible victims of human trafficking, but also find and take criminals off the streets who are hiding in plain sight,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a released statement.
McCausland was directly appointed by city commissioners. He had worked for Lakeland since 1992 and was paid nearly $223,000 per year. McCausland was slated to receive his biannual work performance review from the commissioners on Oct 21.
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This story was reported by Lakeland Ledger staff writer Sara-Megan Walsh.