Three Women Accuse RNRF Reporter of Making Threats – Ties to Sheriff and Dawn Center
HERNANDO – Our viewers either love us or hate us – thankfully the majority of our near 39,000 followers equates to those who appreciate what we do, even if they may not always agree with our methods. Avid readers know that we don’t hold back and don’t care who we offend if the subject of the story is “up to no good.”
Like President Donald Trump, you either despise every fiber of his being or you’re one that would vote him “King Trump” if our Constitution would allow it. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you fall, there is one thing President Trump and RNRF have in common, we both want to “drain the swamp” of political corruption – on both sides of the aisle I might add. Yes, that’s right, corruption that exists right here in our own backyard.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if you’re new to RNRF, we are still a standard news organization that primarily reports on everyday traffic crashes, criminal offenses, weather events, and most other newsworthy incident that occur throughout Pasco, Hernando and Citrus Counties. But the wheels of our investigative machine are always turning, and what we’ve recently discovered may sound like something out of Hollywood, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
In 2012, a former Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy resigned after he refused to commit “Felony Misconduct,” according to a story posted to copblock.org.
After leaving the agency, former Deputy Mark Dougan took to the internet to expose alleged corruption between his former boss, Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and other local government officials. Through his now defunct blog, PBSOtalk.com, Dougan alleged that Bradshaw is a racist who kept a photo of a disfigured black man in his wallet, misappropriated nearly $100,000 in county funds, covered up police brutality, and even bragged about it.
Over the course of the ensuing investigation, the Sheriff’s Office initiated several enquiries into Dougan, and in the end, they even offered him $75,000 to purchase the website, according to reports.
Then there is the case of two young rookie journalists who took on a “corrupt” Whitley County, Kentucky Sheriff, who they say made death threats during their investigation.
Between 2009 and 2011, Adam Sulfridge and Editor Samantha Swindler of the Times-Tribune began an investigation into Sheriff Lawrence Hodge, after finding evidence of Hodge letting defendants walk free, stealing seized drugs and firearms and much more. In the end. Sheriff Hodge was convicted on a 21-count indictment and spent the next three years in federal prison.
Is that something that could happen here? Sounds far-fetched and an arrest is highly unlikely in this good ole’ boy dominion of quid pro quo, collusion, and corruption, we call Hernando County. And once this article publishes I’m sure the sound of paper shredding, email deleting, cell phone smashing, and hard drive bleaching, will echo into the night. But let’s dive right in.
Several years ago, RNRF began receiving complaint, after complaint, after complaint about criminal activity occurring in and around a local domestic violence shelter.
With each investigative report published by RNRF, the flood gates opened a little wider, pouring out more allegations of thefts, abuse, drug and alcohol use, and even prostitution directly associated with the now infamous Dawn Center.
It would require a full semester of Dawn Center 101 to build a foundation into all the allegations made against the controversial compound. So, to avoid muddling the context of this expose’, I would suggest following the links posted below to bring you up to speed on the setting and players of each act, before moving forward.
Last year, former Dawn Center occupant, Ashley Wieder, stood bravely in front of the Hernando Board of County Commissioners and accused Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis of failing to investigate deplorable conditions, criminal activity, and even federal fraud that is occurring inside the clandestine facility. Nienhuis serves on the board of directors for Dawn Center, and until recently, he served as the Board’s President.
Wieder and several other women who spoke on the record with RNRF, claim that Nienhuis and the other board members turn a blind eye to corruption and cover up fraudulent activity, specifically alleging that Dawn Center staff force occupants to sign for goods and services they never receive. Why would that be considered federal fraud? Because Dawn Center receives approximately 1 million dollars per year in federal grants that are contingent on meeting statistical quotas to continue qualifying for those funds.
But let’s back up. One day after Wieder spoke to Commissioners, she received an unexpected and unsolicited visit from Detective Shawn Galarza, later discovered to be at the direction of HCSO Command.
Believing that Galarza was there to open an actual investigation, Wieder agreed to an interview at her home on Baily Hill Road. With Galarza’s permission, Wieder decided it might be best to record the conversation – and was that a smart move. Because the subsequent interrogation sounded like something straight out of a mob movie – “Who told you to speak out against the Sheriff. . . Was it Tom Lemons – Steve Champion?” Galarza even made threats that he would arrest Wieder if she wasn’t telling the truth! So, a domestic violence victim stands in front of the entire county to tell her story and the “Mob” comes knocking? Judge for yourself: CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL AUDIO RECORDING.
I could end the story here with just the Wieder incident but pick up your jaw from the floor and let’s move on.
In the Sheriff’s unrelenting desperation to “plug the leak” on his sinking ship, Nienhuis has resorted to boycotts, slander campaigns, and even ordered his right-hand spokesperson, the overpaid social media specialist, Denise Moloney, to delay, ignore and even charge for public information inquiries submitted by RNRF. FOLLOW THIS LINK FOR AN INSIDE LOOK INTO PIOs
But those tactics are “old school,” and are to be expected from someone who has something to hide – or should I say – a lot to hide.
Neinhuis’s most bizarre and disturbing scheme to destroy RNRF was set into motion about six months ago. When I [Tom Lemons] later learned that several women were filing false criminal complaints against me for cyberstalking. And guess who two of the “alleged victims” have ties to, yep, you guessed it, Dawn Center and the Sheriff Nienhuis.
Thanks to several well-meaning Sheriff’s Office “whistleblowers,” these investigations were brought to my attention before a Detective could acquire enough probably cause (PC) for arrest. One HCSO employee stated, “Be careful, the Sheriff is victim shopping.”
But let’s talk about the alleged “victims” and who they are associated with.
The first to file a complaint was a 30-year-old female by the name of Kara Dearnley, a woman who was blocked by RNRF months ago because of her obsessive and abusive comments towards me, my family and RNRF in general. I later learned that she accused me of Cyberstalking which was quickly reversed after I provided evidence to the contrary. After reviewing my counter-complaint, the lead investigator Detective Anthony Belmonte determined that the real offender was Kara Dearnley and that he had established enough probable cause to arrest her for Cyberstalking. However, in an unusual turn of events, Det. Belmonte decided to contact the State Attorney’s Office (ASA) before making an arrest. After speaking with an ASA Richard Lehman, Belmonte advised that the State would not prosecute; therefore, Belmonte decided not to arrest Dearnley.
Det. Belmonte was also handling an almost identical case where Capital City Bank employee, Donna Lipidarov claimed I was harassing her. And just like with the Dearnley case, I provided evidence that turned the tables, resulting Det. Belmonte determining that PC existed for Lipidarov’s arrest. But just like with the Dearnly case, Belmonte informed me that the ASA Richard Lehman would not file – case closed.
But where does the connection come in? Well, the “jury” is still deliberating on Dearnley, but I discovered through my own investigation that Donna Lipidarov was a former auxiliary deputy with the Sheriff’s Office. Not only that, her Capital City Branch President is none-other than former Dawn Center Board Member, Tyler Stapleton.
One of Lipidarov’s most disturbing comments to me was “Hey Tom your opinion sucks, keep throwing dirt and you’ll be covered and buried in MUD!” And yet no arrest was made. . .
Believing that I had plenty of evidence to at least acquire a civil order of protection from a Hernando County Court, I submitted my petitions to Judge Thomas Eineman for review. By the end of the day I received my answer – “Not Granted” and “No Hearing.”
The third and final complaint comes from the commandant of the anti-RNRF crusade, close friend and colleague to fundraiser-in-chief, Sheriff Al Nienhuis, domestic violence advocate and Community Engagement Coordinator for the most clandestine and controversial “military compound” in the entire county, April Johnson of Dawn Center. Yes, that’s right. The catalyst that ties all the pieces of the corrupt puzzle together.
Johnson filed a complaint with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office on February 17th claiming that I made threats to physically harm her. Let all that sink in for just a minute. . .
Detective Anthony Belmonte was once again assigned to the case and just like the outcome of the previous investigations, Belmonte found zero evidence of any threat made against April Johnson. But was Johnson arrested for making a false report? Of course not.So, a top advocate for victims of domestic violence becomes the poster child for making false reports of domestic violence. Isn’t this enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all the previous allegations made by former Dawn Center occupants are accurate? Shouldn’t this, at the very least, lead to an investigation by both State and or Federal agencies?
The facility brings in well over 1.3 million per year and over 93% of those funds go to salaries and benefits. Don’t you think the political power brokers, i.e. Sheriff Nienhuis, Commissioner John Allocco, Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, and others have good reason to shut this reporter down by any means possible?
Why does this reporter carry a firearm and wear Kevlar whenever I leave the house? Could it be because I’ve been warned by several law enforcement officers and citizens of the community that this Sheriff and his cohorts will stop at nothing to bring an end to my investigation?
I feel sorry for the deputies and detectives who have been forced to take part in these frivolous investigations. I do not blame those who took part in the investigations because I know they are only doing their job, and if they refuse, their own careers with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office would instantly be in jeopardy.
Editors Note: Due to the Dawn Center and Sheriff’s boycott efforts, RNRF has suffered financial loss that has greatly impacted our ability to continue operations without the community’s help.
Thank you for your continued support.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ™2013 – 2018 RNRF Incorporated.
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