VIDEO – Woman Claims HCSO Detective Intimidated, Threatened Arrest, After Exposing Alleged Corruption
BROOKSVILLE – A domestic violence survivor says she was mistreated, lied to, and now threatened by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office for exposing illegal activity that she says is going on inside a local domestic violence shelter.
Ashley Wieder, along with several former occupants, local residents, and even former employees of the Dawn Center Domestic Violence Shelter, contacted RNRF over the last several years to voice concerns over drug abuse, prostitution, violent behavior and even roach infestations inside the facility.
RNRF published several stories on the issues over the years but Sheriff Al Nienhuis dismissed the claims, despite 187 calls to service that were recorded by HCSO between 2014-2015. Of course, Sheriff Al Nienhuis is among several other local politicians and their wives who sit on the Board of Directors for the Dawn Center.
On Tuesday October 10th, Wieder stepped to the podium during Citizen Comments at the Board of County Commissioners meeting in Brooksville (BOCC) to exposed Dawn Center issues. Wieder called out every current Dawn Center Board Member, who are all power brokers in Hernando County. Those names include, Former President, Sheriff Al Nienhuis, President, Tara Foreman (wife of former School Board member, Attorney Matt Foreman), VP, Brittany Oakland, Karen Nicolai (Treasurer, former Clerk of Court), Leanne Salazar, Elizabeth Jennings, Randi Allocco (Wife of Commissioner John Allocco), Curt Cornell, and Virginia Korbus. State Representative and Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Blaise Ingoglia who represents the Board as an Ex Officio member. The Director of the Dawn Center is Shannon Sokolowsi, who has endorsed a three-year slander campaign against RNRF for reporting the allegations of what is going on inside the facility.
But the story doesn’t end there, the very next day after Wieder spoke to the BOCC, Detective Shawn Galarza contacted Wieder and asked to conduct an interview. Wieder tells RNRF that she finally thought something was going to be done about the issue but it turns out, Wieder says the meeting was intimidating and she felt like a criminal suspect the entire time.
During her 3-minute speech, Wieder accused the Dawn Center off falsely advertising services that never existed, including a very serious charge of the facility possibly committing fraud. Wieder says she was told to accept feminine products that she doesn’t use. But staff member told her that she had to sign for accepting the products, even though she didn’t use them, stating, “You have to so we get our funding.” Keep in mind that even though Dawn Center is a non-profit, it receives nearly a million dollars per year in Federal and State funding and thousands more in local donations.
Wieder also revealed drug transactions that occurred on the facility grounds but when she complained to staff members, they told her she would have to leave the facility to call the Sheriff’s Office because, “we don’t need them out here.”
On Wednesday, Det. Galarza met with Wieder at her home on Baily Hill Road. With Galarza’s permission, she recorded the conversation, as did Det. Galarza.
Galarza questions why Wieder didn’t contact the Sheriff’s Office to complain, instead of going to the BOCC. He goes on to ask why she used the term “BOCC” and says “nobody uses that term, which is an unusual questions because “BOCC” is a very common term used by the media and government official. Galarza then turned his questioning towards RNRF, specifically [Tom Lemons], stating, “Did anyone by the name of Tom Lemons tell you to call the Sheriff’s Office?” Ashley denied those allegations and it should be noted that Ashley did not call the Sheriff’s Office at all – they contacted her.
Det. Galarza advised that “… the Sheriff would not jeopardize his career and align himself with a facility that’s doing something illegal.” But if that is true, then why hasn’t the Sheriff acknowledged or investigated the numerous complaints from women, residents in the community, and even hospital staff who have had to treat several drug and alcohol overdose patients from Dawn Center over the years?
Det. Galarza says during the interview that a “thorough investigation” was conducted in 2015 but so far officials have been unable to provide a case number or details into that alleged investigation. When or if they do, we will certainly update the story with those findings.
At the end of the interview Det. Galarza threatens to come back and arrest Wieder if he finds out that she was coerced or lied about why she spoke to the BOCC regarding Dawn Center issues.
RNRF has attempted dozens of times over the years to request comments from Dawn Center staff and Board Members but they have all refused to respond to our requests.
RNRF has interviewed several individuals and we plan to bring at least one additional report on this issue in the coming weeks.
Here are links to previous RNRF reports regarding issues with Dawn Center:
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