State Attorney asks for Sheriff's Office complaint to be transferred


Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 7:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 11:17 p.m.

State Attorney Bill Cervone has asked that a sworn complaint filed by the Alachua County Sheriff's Office against the head of a police union alleging he tampered with evidence be transferred to a neighboring judicial circuit.

Cervone in a letter to Gov. Rick Scott wrote that he tried to resolve the dispute between Sheriff Sadie Darnell and Jeff McAdams, a Gainesville police officer who is Fraternal Order of Police president, but that a settlement could not be reached.

"I have sought to find a resolution that all concerned could accept," Cervone wrote. "At one point, that had apparently been accomplished. It is now clear that I cannot do so without one party or both feeling that my involvement is improper."

Cervone is a longtime member of the fraternal part of the FOP. He wrote that both McAdams and Darnell have supported him politically in the past.

The procedure when such conflicts occur is for a state attorney to request the governor transfer the case. Such cases are usually transferred to a neighboring circuit.

The sworn complaint stems from an incident that began last summer when a then-jail employee, Michael Cooper, tried to secretly record a meeting he had with supervisors. Cooper told investigators he wasn't sure if the recording worked.

In October, Cooper met with investigators for an internal review on the surreptitious recording, with McAdams as his union representative. Cooper was asked for his cellphone and declined to turn it over.

A break was called so an investigator could get a copy of a policy regarding the agency's right to inspect any item brought to its facilities. In the meantime, Cooper and McAdams went outside, and McAdams bought the phone from him.

The Sheriff's Office contends McAdams' action amounts to tampering with evidence and obstruction. When the sworn complaint was filed last month, FOP attorney Michael Finesilver said that McAdams did not commit a crime by buying the phone.

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