A lieutenant with the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office is accused of shredding tax deed documents and then saying he lost them in order to cover it up. A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found Stephen Anthony Willis benefited by destroying the documents in January. “Willis stood to benefit from this action of destruction by appearing to not have the documents, thus attempting to create the appearance that he had not been negligent of his duties,” FDLE said in the release.
Willis turned himself in to the Wakulla County Jail on Thursday night. He faces a charge of official misconduct, a third-degree felony. A fellow lieutenant discovered Willis’ actions when she was closing out files on Jan. 6 and found that three summons for delinquent property taxes given to Willis had not been returned. After being questioned about the documents, Willis went to his office, and retrieved a stack of papers. The sheriff’s office release said Willis then shredded the documents. He then came to the lieutenant’s office and said he was never given them, according to an FDLE arrest affidavit.
After Willis left the lieutenant’s office, a surveillance tape shows him to go to his office, retrieve papers and then walk into the room with the paper shredder where he left 11 seconds later without the documents, the affidavit said.
The camera never captured what Willis did while in the room, but fellow employees took the shredded documents, three-ply carbon copy sheets, and entered them into evidence. Keith Blackmar, WCSO spokesman, said its unclear what Willis would have gained from shredding the documents. A member of the department filed an internal complaint tipping off administrators, Blackmar said. The agency turned the investigation over to FDLE once it was discovered they had been destroyed.
Willis has been with the department for 16 years and most recently was the civil process server, in charge of serving legal documents like eviction notices and child support documents.
Blackmar said he is unaware of any prior internal disciplinary actions against Willis, 59, of Crawfordville.
WCSO is now working to fire Willis, who was initially suspended with pay until the investigation finished. He remains suspended with pay.
“I run a clean and honest agency and this type of conduct will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form,” said Wakulla County Sheriff Charlie Creel.
Original article here.