TALLAHASSEE — Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil has assigned Criminal Investigations Bureau (CIB) Chief Investigator Jeffery Beasley to lead the investigation of Mayor Andrew Gillum’s alleged misappropriation of City of Tallahassee property for personal use.
McNeil brushed off suggestions longstanding ties with Gillum — through McNeil’s previous position as Tallahassee Police Department Chief of Police and through McNeil and Gillum’s mutual association with political advisor Sean Pittman during the last election — will affect the Sheriff’s Office’s investigation of Gillum.
“I think for the most part, the media is gonna make this a no-win situation and we understand that. We will be criticized,” McNeil said.
He continued, “I have no concern about the mayor or anyone else. The folks of Leon County elected me to do the job of sheriff and that’s precisely what I plan to do.”
“My department has investigated numerous people. I don’t do the investigation myself,” he explained.
McNeil said Beasley is overseeing the investigation.
Beasley, controversial is his own right, was hired on Jan. 3 by McNeil. Beasley is the former Florida Department of Corrections inspector general accused of covering up and thwarting investigations into human rights abuses in the Florida prison system. He and others in his office were accused of failing to investigate and even derailing some cases involving the abuse of inmates.
McNeil said it is Beasley who will assign an investigator to the Gillum case.
Indicating complete confidence in his investigative team, McNeil was emphatic it would run a thorough investigation in which he would not interfere.
“It will go to an investigator. I have no idea who that investigator will be. Any investigator assigned to this will have the background in these kinds of cases and he or she will do their job. They will, if need be, confer with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, relative to any issues of computers, science and technology, like we always do. That investigation will carry on, and, like murder cases and other cases, I don’t personally oversee those cases. I don’t personally get involved in those,” he said.
He further explained that there are “checks and balances” between the Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s office. He said when the investigator completes his or her investigation, the findings will be sent to the State Attorney’s office. If there are questions, the State Attorney can send them back to the investigator.
“There’ll be discussions back and forth about the evidence and the course of the investigation,” McNeil said, “and all of that will occur without my having anything to do with it whatsoever.”
“I’m just gonna do my job. My investigators will do a great job. This case will be processed the same way as any other case,” McNeil said.
On February 23, Tallahassee Reports broke the story that Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum had allegedly spent approximately $5,000 in city funds to purchase software from democrat campaign vendor, NGP VAN. That software was allegedly used in campaign emails for Gillum in which he mixed “Office of the Mayor” letterhead with his campaign correspondence.
An investigation was launched March 8 by State Attorney Jack Campbell after receipt of a complaint letter from a retired Jefferson County law enforcement officer and investigator.