Sheriff’s Office Ordered to Turn Over 2.3 Million in Special Reserve Fund, Holcomb Defends Sheriff’s Reputation
BROOKSVILLE – If you were expecting fireworks during today’s Board of County Commissioners meeting over allegations that Sheriff Al Nienhuis was hiding federal inmate funds, you were sorely disappointed. The good news is that what could have led to a major investigation by state officials, quietly came to a close, after the Sheriff’s Office agreed to return the special reserve funds back to the BOCC.
During the brief meeting, Sheriff’s Office Attorney Joel Fritton told board members that the money was turned over but, “where it went, I’m not sure.” Fritton also suggested that it was an accounting issue and not criminal, as many had suggested. Commissioner Jeff Holcomb echoed Fritton’s sentiments by stating, “The issue that has kept me up at night is this current board of commissioners disrespecting the Sheriff – a Constitutional Officer who is well respected in this county.” Holcomb goes onto to say that the board has called the Sheriff a “Liar, a law breaker and that he’s not doing what’s right for the County.”
Commissioner Steve Champion sparred with Holcomb over the contentious history involving the budget debacle but in the end, they all agreed that mistakes were made and that they money should be returned.
A motion by Commissioner Champion requesting the Sheriff’s Office to turn over approximately $2.3 million was approved and was ordered to be transferred by close of business on July 14th of this year.
A second motion to force a monthly federal revenue to be immediately deposited to the county was placed on hold until further discussion could be held on the matter.
Sheriff Nienhuis provided the following statement after the meeting: “I’m glad to see that the BOCC realizes this is an accounting issue that should have been handled by staff.
I look forward to working with the County Commission to meet the most immediate needs at the jail, both daily operational needs as well as repairs and improvements that are desperately needed for safety and security.
Our citizens can take comfort in knowing that this Sheriff has, and always will, have their best interest at heart.”
Allegations by former Maj. James Terry were not mentioned during today’s hearing.
ADDITIONAL NOTES: Deputy County Attorney John Jouben agreed with HCSO Attorney Joel Fritton that this issue was an accounting matter and not criminal in nature.
It should also be noted that the $2.3 million is revenue collected over the course of two years.
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