Local News

Preliminary report issued on Anderson's ethics complaint

AVON PARK - The preliminary report by the state ethics commission does not appear to support Avon Park Councilman Garrett Anderson's claims of misuse of public office against City Manager Julian Deleon. The commission will use the investigative report to make a ruling on Anderson's complaint. The report does not draw a conclusion, but addresses Anderson's claims individually. Anderson has alleged that Deleon misused his public position by ordering the county's building inspector, Sol Moseley, Jr., and the city's interim fire department chief, David Cloud, to inspect Anderson's private business, Anderson Arms, and threatened them that "their jobs would be in jeopardy" if they did not "comply with his demands and find a complaint" to shut down the business, the report states.
In the report, Anderson has clarified that neither Moseley nor Cloud specifically told him that Deleon personally threatened them. Anderson explained that each told him they felt like they were expected to find a violation at his business in order to close it down. Discussion at a Jan. 14 city council meeting and immediately after started a series of events from which Anderson based his complaint to the ethics commission. In the report, Anderson stated that at a January council meeting there was a heated exchange between him and Deleon concerning Deleon's continued residency outside the city limits, despite the city charter's requirement that the city manager reside within the city. Anderson alleges that immediately after the meeting Deleon threatened him by saying that if he questioned him publicly again about his private business, Anderson's private business would face serious consequences, according to the report. Deleon acknowledged he had a conversation with Anderson following the meeting, but denied that he threatened him or his business during their conversation, the report states. Deleon stated that he sent a letter to Moseley on Jan. 25 requesting an inspection of Anderson Arms. He made the request, he said, because Kenny Long of Long's Air Conditioning made a complaint that some of the wiring did not meet building code specifications and could present a fire hazard, the report states. Long confirmed that he informed Deleon in January that he had inspected the Anderson Arms building and observed wiring that was not permitted or properly installed, according to the report. Responding to a letter from Deleon, Moseley said he inspected Anderson Arms in mid-January and noticed that electrical wiring and an office had been added to the interior of the building and that the county had no record of a permit for the work, the report shows. Mosley countered what Anderson said, adding that he did not tell him during their Feb. 1 conversation that he felt pressured to find a violation, the report states. Cloud also claimed in the report that he did not tell Anderson that Deleon had ordered an inspection of Anderson Arms or that he felt threatened for his job. In the report, Anderson also acknowledged that a beef he had leveled against Deleon filing a complaint against him and his business with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), was not true. During an interview with the ethics commission investigator, Anderson stated that he had since learned that Deleon did not file the complaint. Anderson said Tuesday morning that he had not seen the ethics report. Deleon said he has retained attorney Mark Herron to represent him with the ethics commission in Tallahassee and retained Robin Gibson, from the Gibson Law Firm in Lake Wales, to represent him locally. "We are closely examining the facts as they become available," Deleon said. The city council had commissioned its own investigation into Anderson's claims. Based on the findings of that investigation, council approved a resolution in June finding no fault with Deleon. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826