Posted in: City, Exclusive, Local News, Media Gallery

Grand Jury Clears Gillum of Criminal Conduct, Questions City of Tallahassee

Posted on August 8, 2017

Grand Jury Clears Gillum of Criminal Conduct, Questions City of Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE — A Leon County Grand Jury determined Monday the “conduct of (Tallahassee) Mayor Andrew Gillum was lawful” under Florida Statutes in a case concerning the mayor’s use of City of Tallahassee software to send campaign-related emails and correspondence, despite the fact the grand jury also determined the software was used for personal or political purposes.

The State’s Attorney’s Office received a written complaint from a retired law enforcement officer, Paul Henry, on March 2, 2017 alleging Gillum committed grand theft and official misconduct when he used public funds to purchase NGP Van software and when Gillum then used that software for emails pertaining to his gubernatorial campaign.

This matter was investigated by Leon County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tyler Epstein, who turned over his findings to State Attorney Jack Campbell on July 19.

According to Epstein’s findings Gillum did not personally utilize the NGP Van software to send the questionable emails.

The grand jury report said communications were delegated to staff, with Chief of Staff Dustin Daniels possessing the only password to the software.

According to the grand jury report, city employees Jamie Van Pelt, Community Relations Coordinator, and Daniels are the “only persons who ever created or directed the NGP Van software to send any communications using City of Tallahassee funds. “

“No evidence was found to suggest the Gillum directed, or was personally involved, in the decision to send the four political emails or any other communications using the NGP Van system,” the report said.

The grand jury report said it did not find these staffers to be guilty of misappropriation, because there was no evidence they had criminal intent to steal when they used the software to send the emails. They also determined the staff’s use of public property for personal or political reasons and fundraising to be “incidental and insufficient to support criminal prosecution.”

The grand jury did find it “disturbing” that presented evidence suggested that expenditures by the City of Tallahassee’s elected officials are not checked by internal audit or regulation. The grand jury recommended the City of Tallahassee empower “somebody” to oversee and report the spending of elected official’s personal staffs.

35 Responses to Grand Jury Clears Gillum of Criminal Conduct, Questions City of Tallahassee

  1. Jay Bird Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Once again a crooked Democrat st gets a pass.

    • Snydley Whplash Reply

      August 8, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      So after Mayor Andy is elected Governor payback will demand Jack Campbell be appointed Attorney General and of course Walt McNeil to head up our FDLE. Yes it will be a happy 4 – 8 years for Governor Andy’s local crooks!

      • Karen Shiver Reply

        August 8, 2017 at 10:47 pm

        He has to get elected first. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen!!

  2. Joe West Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Well gosh, I’m just stunned. Bet Andy’s pissed he spent that 25 Grand, he’ll probably put in for a refund. Evidently staffers at City Hall lack supervision and of course Andy had no idea his staff was at the very least bending some laws if not breaking them. It’s a sad statement to make, but I really don’t believe anything ANY of our “Elected Officials say anymore.This applies to our County’s highest elected Official as well as the State Attorney’s office.

  3. Mr. Curious Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Ok, so the Mayor gets a pass due to a technicality, however, the staffers should not get a pass. “Oh, officer, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize the speed dropped from 55 mph to 40 mph. Why are you still giving me a ticket? It was not my intent to break the law and go over the speed limit.”

    Don’t try to explain to me how this case is any different with intent. Did they know they were using city funds to financially fund the emails? Yes, they did. Intent proven. This is complete BS. And whoever sat on that grand jury panel should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. The sheriff’s office should be charging the staffers. Period.

  4. Todd Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    But let me guess Joe West u believe its all fake news for Trump…. Wow u people are stupid

  5. Joe West Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    I love the extraordinarily brave keyboard warriors in this town. Let me guess Todd, you think the Presidential election was stolen from your gal Hillary. LMAO, and you think I’m stupid.

  6. Preston Scott

    Preston Scott Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    The Grand Jury is only able to offer a determination based on what is presented. In its “Presentment” it finds some issues, but within the confines of the definition of “criminal wrongdoing” and whatever evidence was presented it did not have enough of a case. Having served on a Grand Jury I feel confident there was something to this case, just not enough, hence the “disturbing” notes. Additionally, let’s be real here – Andrew was investigated by LCSO. The Sheriff tried, but cannot “distance” himself from the staff he hires and fires. Gillum and McNeil share a very common ideology and McNeil did, in fact, work for the City when Gillum was a Commissioner. There should have been an independent investigation for the sake of all parties involved. Additionally, why did Gillum have to spend so much money (as Politico Florida is reporting) for legal bills on this issue? Was he ever charged? I would think you would spend big bucks on attorneys when you need them. Anyway, this is the LEAST of Andy’s challenges. His meetings, dinners, and flights carry much higher stakes.

    • Kim Barclay Reply

      August 8, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      I agree with your statement, Preston. There should have been an independent investigation. These waters are way too muddy.

    • Sad for Tally Reply

      August 8, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Due to the obvious connections, who can ask the FDLE to review this case just to make sure everything was handled appropriately? The “intent” comment has corruption written all over it!

      • Dirk Dynamic Reply

        August 8, 2017 at 10:42 pm

        The Governor has to request an FDLE investigation regarding corruption of local officials. I sent Mr. Scott a letter several months ago. Nothing yet.

    • Terry Reply

      August 9, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      Having filed a complaint with the State Attorney’s office requesting an investigation of a County matter several years ago, i learned quickly that when it is investigated and, finally, presented to the Grand Jury, it makes a lot of difference who presents and the tone of their presentation. Personally, I think the complainant should have insisted to Campbell that another jurisdiction investigate and present to the GJ due to all the existing conflicts.

      • Preston Scott

        Preston Scott Reply

        August 9, 2017 at 4:43 pm

        You are correct on all assertions.

    • Stanley Sims Reply

      August 9, 2017 at 7:53 pm

      Preston I’m offended how you can strongly link the Mayor and the Sheriff together… but make no mention of the close tries with Jack Campbell… wassup with that??? Could it be ??

    • Snydely Whiplash Reply

      August 10, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Quite likely the “Esquire” which Andy spent the $25K on is a “usual suspect”.
      Quite likely that $25K is rightly deemed an appropriate expense from Andy’s election for Governor account.
      Quite likely COT will rightly under existing policy reimburse Andy the $25K.
      Quite likley our “Esquire” “usual suspect” has already handed $12.5K back to Andy (in cash) per their “agreement”.
      25K + 12.5K = 37.5K
      See how this works?

  7. James Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Didn’t kow that was an intent crime.

  8. Joe Shiver Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Did I here that right no one is overseeing the spending. It’s a spin-for-all, I mean spin-for-them. Taxahassee.

  9. Vernon Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Did anyone expect the democrat sheriff investigating the democrat mayor to produce an indictment? ANYONE??

    I find it incredible that it was found taxpayer funds were misappropriated but no one is held accountable. For all the people that didnt think Tallahassee has a swamp full of corruption… this should be the eye opener for you.

    And that 25k the mayor spent lawyering up was not for this, but to help salvage his reputation and navigate any pending charges from the FBI investigations.

  10. News_Maven Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    From Day 1,
    THE.
    FIX.
    WAS.
    IN.

    The city should get rid of the tree in its logo and change it to the Creature From the Black Lagoon.

  11. Bill Carlton Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    That decision was made before the investigation began.

  12. James Anderson Reply

    August 9, 2017 at 6:36 am

    What a joke.

  13. Old Cop Reply

    August 9, 2017 at 10:06 am

    The city auditor has the legal authority to investigate expenditures and operational expenses of city employees. However, investigating your boss can be professionally hazardous.

  14. Hope Reply

    August 9, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Perhaps this can be rolled into the current FBI investigation for a second look.

  15. Toby Reply

    August 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    What the point of having laws?

    • Sad for Tally Reply

      August 9, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      To keep the working non-elite folks in check! I would have been fired immediately if I did the same thing. This dynamic allows for the political elitists to hold power while not having to worry about us “little” people.

      Notice how Hillary Clinton kept a server off-site from the State Department to keep her emails and other documents from the public and media? You try the same thing with your employer and see what happens.

      • Todd Reply

        August 11, 2017 at 12:29 pm

        Tjust like Rick Scott and all the other republicans do…

  16. News_Maven Reply

    August 9, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.”
    -Potter Stewart

  17. Mike Reply

    August 10, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Seems I recall that James Comey (an obama appointee) used the “no intent” defense of Hillary’s long list of felonies and federal crimes, and there was plenty of solid evidence on Hillary: smashed hard drives and Blackberries to conceal evidence, emails that were plainly classified information of the most critical kind sent through Hillary’s secret server in a Denver bathroom, and so on. If someone has “no intent” then why destroy hard drives and send secret emails through a non-secured, personal server hidden far from Washington? In tried in “fly-over” America, Hillary would be in a federal prison, no question.

    If Hillary can get off scot-free due to “lack of intent”, then little fish like Gillum and his staff had no worries in a liberal Democrat-riddled town. Perhaps this investigation would have a different outcome if handled by Bay, Walton, or Escambia law enforcement agencies. Hopefully the FBI investigation is not brushed aside so easily.

    • Mr. Curious Reply

      August 11, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      Mike…I want justice to be served, but if you haven’t looked at the case file, let’s not be so quick to judge our Sheriff’s Office and it’s members. They can only present the case that’s in front of them. It is not their job to judge or try the case. Until otherwise shown other incriminating evidence, I will give credit to LCSO and the hard work every member puts in every day to bring those who’ve done wrong to justice.

      • Mike Reply

        August 14, 2017 at 8:01 am

        Mr. Curious, you are absolutely correct. I intended no disrespect for our LCSO investigators and/or officers, and apologize for any of my remarks that seemed disrespectful. I should have clarified that my concern is for when the case is handed over from investigators to higher-ups and continues in the legal process. These “investigations” always seems to go nowhere in this city, and it seems that justice always is somehow thwarted. No one is punished, and the corrupt local game goes on as before. Very frustrating, to say the least.

  18. Franklin Thompson Reply

    August 10, 2017 at 9:04 am

    It’s not about the e-mails. It’s that gillum bought personal property for his own use, with city $$$. The use of that property is of no consequence. This never should have even left City Hall. They had the authority to demand gillum’s resignation and summarily dismiss him if he refused to resign. See City Report #0820 and read what happened to an employee who did the same thing gillum did.I would use that employee’s name but he is a friend of mine and Preston Scott knows him also.

  19. Erwin Jackson, PhD. Reply

    August 10, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Interesting investigation – noone thought about interviewing underoath during legal proceedings. They conclude that Mayor Gillum might be guilty of malfeasance but not Official Misconduct. The conclusion is yes what I did was wrong but I am not subject to criminal prosaecusion. Great Andrew, I am happy for you. It is also noted that you say you don’t know what your staff is doing and you would never ” ask them to spend my tax dollars on your campaign. We understand you don’t ask a staff person because a wink or jesture is all that is needed. Your statement that you paid $25,000 in legal fees I question. You were interviewed once and grand jury let you go. Where is a $25,000 defence? How terrible embarasing for you and our entire community.

  20. Rosa McElroy Reply

    August 10, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    No surprise here?, they are so predictable!

  21. Mr. Curious Reply

    August 11, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Why? Why? Why? I can’t keep but asking myself that question. Ok, so the person originally investigated (Gillum) get’s off on a technicality, BUT what about his staff? And who made the payment? Hmmm? I do believe I would be pressing the staffers and look at bringing indictments against any and all of them that knew of the plan and its inception. Why? To simply get to the bottom and the cold hard truth. Ultimately, a resignation would suffice because anyone in the this town with half a brain knows nothing more will be done. Mayor, you are and embarrassment to your self, your family (God I feel for them)and your community. Do us all a favor and resign!

  22. Terry Ward Reply

    August 14, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Sooo, in a nut shell, it is okay for the COT to buy software and its elected officials can use it for political and personal purposes. What world am I living in? Oh,that’s right Tallahassee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *