Accused of dealing drugs, Hampton mayor has been arrested before

Published: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 7:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 7:51 p.m.

Jim Mitzel has known Hampton Mayor Barry Moore since they were schoolmates. Mitzel also served a few terms of mayor of the small Bradford County town. And just the other day, Moore joked to Mitzel that he was right -- that leading the town is a headache.

That was before Moore, 51, was arrested Monday on a Bradford County warrant charging him with selling the narcotic oxycodone following an undercover investigation by the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office. It was the latest of several arrests for Moore.

“I’ve known him since we were kids. It’s just a shame. I was so shocked. It just makes the city look bad. Even though he’s a friend, it makes us look bad,” Mitzel said. “Everybody knew he’s had problems over the years, but nobody ran against him so he automatically got elected.”

Moore, 51, was picked up in Polk County Monday on the Bradford County warrant. Bradford sheriff’s Capt. Brad Smith said the agency got a tip that Moore was dealing oxycodone in Hampton, which is just east of U.S. 301 between Waldo and Starke.

An undercover operation was set up and Moore sold oxycodone in a controlled buy, Smith said.

“Our drug unit put together an operation and was able to get him selling the drugs during the operation. From what I’ve heard from statements made during the operation, he had been using this stuff for a couple of decades,” Smith said. “We don’t have any indication that he was doing this anywhere other than the city of Hampton.”

Smith said that deputies went to Hampton to serve the warrant, but he was not there. They called Moore, who told them he was in Polk County. Deputies there took him into custody.

State Attorney Bill Cervone said his office will review the case and may have a decision on charges sometime next week.

Cervone added that Moore’s immediate political future may be in jeopardy because of the arrest.

“We will have to look at the evidence and his culpability. I sent my division chief up there a note asking him to look at this pronto and let me know what we’ve got,” Cervone said. “As with any elected official, I’m sure the governor’s office will want to monitor what’s going on. On the basis of it being a felony arrest, I’m sure they will be looking at doing something.”

Moore has had several previous arrests for battery and domestic battery. Court records show most of the charges were dropped. In one case, adjudication of guilt was withheld. Another was transferred to a different court.

Moore was convicted of violating an injunction for protection and of several traffic crimes such as driving without a license.

Mitzel said Moore was elected in September. He is on disability and does not work.

“He had a bad accident years ago. He was probably taking pain pills but that doesn’t give him any reason to do what he was doing,” Mitzel said. “He’s had problems over the years, but I thought he was getting himself straightened out.”

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