Wakulla County Sheriff's Office Cleared of Wrongdoing

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jan 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-11 13:15:15-05

CRAWFORDVILLE, FL (WTXL) -- The results of an investigation into the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) are in after "whistleblower" complaints were filed: the office has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

For 10 months, the office was under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and FBI, after allegations from five WCSO employees.

"They went through this office from top to bottom, and the result of that investigation? Nothing about anything dealing with this was the truth," said Sheriff Charlie Creel.

The investigation looked at three claims:

1) that a vehicle bought through a state grant was used for illegal purposes

2) that a suspended deputy was allowed to work "off duty," earning compensation

3) that barbecue grills and a gun cabinet were built by county inmates, using county-owned material for personal use

Sheriff Creel says he fully cooperated with investigators.

"They followed me to my house, and I showed them a gun cabinet that I've had for 30 years," Creel said. "They said, 'That's a commercial-made gun cabinet.' And I said, 'Of course, it is.'"

The investigation initially considered two other claims:

1) that WCSO let a sex offender work at a school function

2) that a deputy had an indifferent attitude towards African-Americans, prompting the NAACP to allege misconduct at WCSO

The office says investigators did not find further reason to look into either claim. Sheriff Creel says the investigation overall was a persona attack.

"The way I look at it, they didn't want me here," he said. "They were all longtime employees of the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office, and I came in here. I made changes."

WTXL has reached out to the Wakulla chapter of the NAACP. The president says the chapter will not comment on the investigation until it has had a chance to review the FDLE report.

Of the five WCSO employees who made the allegations, three still work at the office. A fourth retired, and the fifth voluntarily left. Sheriff Creel says he has not spoken with them since the investigation wrapped up around Christmas.