TWO FLORIDA POLICE CHIEFS COMMIT FELONIES, LOSE CAREERS AND FREEDOM

Longwood Police Chief Gets Four Years Federal Time For Accepting Bribes

Former Longwood, Florida police chief, Tom Jackson, will be heading off to do his federal sentence after a jury convicted him of three counts of accepting bribes and one count of conspiracy. According to a report, Jackson took six personal checks from a convicted felon totaling $36,000 during the years 2007 to 2010.  A convicted felon obviously cannot be a sworn police officer and apparently this police chief’s price for trying to accomplish such a feat of making the felon a officer in his department was the $36,000. Also noteworthy here is the fact that the police chief provided a department owned weapon to a convicted felon. Chief Jackson knowingly swore in the convicted felon on July 10,2009 according o the federal indictment.  Possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, commonly referred to as a “PFCF” is a second degree felony under florida law, carrying up to 15 years incarceration with a three year minimum mandatory sentence routinely imposed.  The felon was given business cards, a badge and issued a weapon from the department.  Chief Jackson reportedly made $98,000 per year before one adds in the supplemental income from taking bribes.  It is not known to this reader if Chief Jackson also had an IRS problem for the reporting or non- reporting of the supplemental income from the bribes.  It is also not known if the chief keeps any sort of pension from his non felonious years in charge of the department.

Atlantic Beach Police Chief Sentenced On Drug Charges

In Duval County, Florida, former Atlantic Beach Chief of Police, Michael Classey, can now be referred to by his Florida Department of Corrections number, J54631.  Chief Classey entered guilty pleas to five felonies for possessing illegal steroids and medications and tampering with evidence.  The chief received a five year probationary sentence.  The sentencing judge made sure that the chief forfeited his florida law enforcement certification, would perform 100 hours of community service and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five days per week.  Chief Classey very importantly received a withhold of adjudication.  The withhold means that although he entered pleas to multiple felonies, the court did not convict him of any of the felonies.  Whereas the Longwood chief above will be a lifetime convicted felon going forward after serving prison time, the Atlantic Beach chief was determined to be only a first time offender by the court and a public servant who had demonstrated a stellar 22 year record of decorated service.  The court found that no incarceration was justified and the prosecution also sought no jail or prison time.  The court decided that although this former chief didn’t need to be a convicted felon, he didn’t need to work in law enforcement going forward and needed to be given a chance at treatment.  Remaining on felony probation violation free in Florida is remarkable easy for some folks and just an unattainable hurdle for others.  In Florida, if one violates probation after originally receiving a withhold of adjudication, a hearing is conducted on the violation.  The violator does not get the benefit of a jury trial and whether the person violated or not is simply left up to the judge. The standard of proof required to be shown is that the probationer committed a “willful and substantial” violation of either the general or special conditions of probation.  The risk of violating probation is the previous withhold being converted into an adjudication/conviction and the probationer is also exposed to whatever incarceration was the maximum sentence allowed on each count the probationer entered pleas to.  Additionally, it is rare that a judge sets a bond on a violation of probation warrant or capias.  Locally, in North Florida, these are usually “no bond” warrants, even  for those on misdemeanor probation.  One will sit in jail 15-30 days before getting in front of the judge.  Usually, once one has accrued a substantial criminal record, or if the charge in question is very serious, probation will not be an option the court will consider.  A court is also not allowed to withhold adjudication of guilt on certain crimes or people with certain records.

If You Think You Violated Probation

Probation can be compared to a defendant making a promise to the court.  Some of the hardest probationary sentences to successfully complete are those handed out to sex offenders. Many times these sex offenders are sent to state prison for long sentences followed by many years of heavily monitored sex offender probation upon their release.  In contrast to that type of harsh probation, the easiest type of probation is where the court includes no special conditions.  Special conditions are varied and can include AA or NA meetings as mentioned above, classes to prevent shoplifting, mandatory treatment of anger and abusiveness, residential and non-residential drug treatment, curfews, and no contact with victims.  General conditions are to basically remain crime free and report in once a month when you are required.  Ray Forbess, Sr., has represented hundreds of people who have violated probation.  If the violation is bad enough and a warrant has already been issued, our office instructs the violators to turn themselves into the jail.  Sometimes the violations are minimal and/or the violation report from probation has not worked its way to the judge’s office and had a warrant signed.  In those cases, lawyers can take steps to hopefully have the warrant or capias prevented or recalled and a court date provided for a review of probation.  The obvious advantage here for the defendant is opportunity to attend court coming in from the main hallway as opposed to coming in through the inmate chute.  If you, a family member or friend has a concern about a probation violation, the Forbess Law Firm, 634-0900, is experienced and has always provided a free consultation.