Local News

State Attorney's office weighs in Avon Park records request

AVON PARK - The State Attorney's Office found nothing criminal in the slow response to Avon Park City Manager Julian Deleon's public records request involving members of the city's police pension board.
But, Assistant State Attorney Steve Houchin, who reviewed the case earlier this month, said Thursday that he might check on it now.
Deleon filed a report with the Highlands County Sheriff's Office on Aug. 12 stating four people had violated Florida's public records laws: Police Pension Board Attorney Scott Christiansen, Police Pension Board Administrator Carol Knapp, Police Pension Board Chairperson Greg Warner and Fire Pension Board Chairman Warren West.
The sheriff's office referred the case to the State Attorney's Office.
In the sheriff's office report, Major David Paeplow said on Aug. 20 he reviewed the case with Houchin who believed there did not appear to be anything "criminal" with the case.
The sheriff's report states, although the individuals might be slow in producing the public records requested, it seems that they are working on it. At this point, the State Attorney's Office will not get involved.
The report shows on Aug. 22 that Deleon dropped his complaint against West. Also, Deleon informed the sheriff's office that he had received records from Christiansen.
The case was "closed" on Aug. 26, the sheriff's report shows.
Deleon said Thursday that the records he received recently from Warner were "improperly redacted," and were turned over to the city attorney for further review.
"We are still waiting for Carol Knapp to produce records," Deleon said.
Houchin said Thursday from what he understands, there was a records demand and the pension board as a whole was supplying records.
The question was can the same records be obtained from each individual member, he said.
"The answer was, if the entity is supplying you with the records, then you have the records," Houchin said.
Houchin said he has not spoken to anyone about the case since he spoke informally with Paeplow.
"Maybe I will check into it now," he added.
At Monday's City Council meeting, the attorney representing the Police Pension Board, Matthew Mierzwa, made the same point as Houchin about the records request calling for duplicate copies of emails from each board member.
City Attorney Gerald Buhr stressed that each board member should provide their emails, including their copies of emails that were sent to each board member.
Highlands Today sought comment from Carol Knapp who responded by email, at the direction of her personal attorney, Robert Grizzard, all comments will come from him.