Sgt. Manny Perez: Oak Hill Police Chief Diane Young 'opening Pandora's box'
NSBNEWS.NET INVESTIGATIVE PROJECT -- OAK HILL COPS: COCAINE, CORRUPTION AND CHAOS
OAK HILL -- Sgt. Manny Perez returned to work this morning from his March 30 paid suspension, but things are far from settled with him accusing embattled Police Chief Diane Young of being corrupt, engaging in a relationship with a drug dealer, ticket fixing and other allegations, all of which she has denied.
Perez was miffed after signing a waiver at his attorney's office Friday that precludes him from pursuing legal action against Young and the city on his earlier sworn claims and notices of intention to sue because he was the victim of sexual harassment and racial discrimination by the police chief and that he was being wrongfully terminated.
Perez told NSBNews.net on Friday afternoon by phone signing the waiver was the only way he could get his job back. He said he was angry that Young had reneged on an agreement the two sides reached during an earlier Personnel Board meeting that would have his lawyer sending the city a letter stating he would not pursue legal action against the chief or the city.
In exchange, the chief would issue a press release to the media stating allegations that Perez stole gas or any other accusations were unfounded and that those allegations would be expunged from his personnel file.
Perez' attorney, David Hood, former Ormond Beach mayor, sent in Perez' as promised, but Young did not. Instead, Hood's law office received a letter from City Attorney Scott Simpson stating Young did not agree to those conditions.
Hood was out of town Friday, Perez said, so one of his associates gave Perez the waiver letter from Simpson, and he was informed that if he signed it he could report to work 6 a.m. Monday.
Perez signed it and officially clocked in at 6:15 a.m.
Young on Friday told NSBNews.net "the deal is done" referring to Perez returning to work while reiterating she had not agreed to what Perez wanted at the Personnel Board meeting. She said she cleared Perez of allegations that he stole gas from the city pump and that he accessed the state driver's license database for his own personal use.
The chief said the allegations were unfounded, but was evasive as to whether two internal affairs investigations on Perez were completed. She declined further comment.
In his phone interview with NSBNews.net on Friday, Perez reiterated what he stated in a May video interview: "Yes, she is opening Pandora's box," Perez said. The sergeant said he was not told directly by the chief whether the IA investigations were unfounded and his name on the roster in the police department was left blank over the weekend.
NSBNews.net held off on publishing Perez' video interview in front of City Hall in anticipation of a potential settlement. But with Perez unhappy with Friday's action, NSBNews.net posted the first video segment Sunday. What follows are other segments from that interview.
Video 1: Sgt. Perez claims Chief Diane Young "pits officer against officer and that she "gets them to do her bidding." He alleges she did not give him time to prepare for an internal affairs interview and that City Commissioner Ron Engele had betrayed officers' trust by informing Young as to their complaints against her -- that Young then let Perez know that Engele blabbed everything to her while he was drinking heavily.
Responses from Young and Engele: The chief denied any of this occurred, but would not elaborate on the record with NSBNews.net, instead offering an off-the-record response. Engele responded, "No comment." He, too, would not elaborate further on the record with NSBNews.net.
Video 2: Perez claims the Oak Hill "commission and the Chief are too inbred." Perez says he would like to see an "unbiased outside investigation" into alleged corruption in the police department. Perez describes the police department situation as a "sinking ship" and labels Young a "clown."
Response: Young declined comment for the record with NSBNews.net
Video 3: Perez says Young found the gas theft allegations against him "inconclusive" but applies new charges to further retaliate against him. Perez says the chief "ordered" him to attend commission meetings in support of her and that as a result patrols went unmanned in favor of listening to the radio with an earplug for any dispatch calls. Perez says Young had him write up officer M.J. Eberhart as morally corrupt a year earlier when she was named acting chief because he was a threat to her career aspirations. Perez says Young described Eberhart to her as "I'm quoting her, she views him as an evil person." Perez goes on to say that he was being used by the chief as a "patsy or a pawn."
Response: Young denied the allegations, but declined further comment on the record with NSBNews.net. Eberhart told NSBNews.net Young should "never have been promoted as chief or even hired as an officer in the first place since she has admitted to more than a hundred felonies." Eberhart was not made aware of these videos by NSBNews.net until Sunday night.
Video 4: Perez says the chief often came to work in civilian clothes and open-toed shoes and didn't carry her police-issued gun, and that if pressed into an emergency situation, he doubts she'd be able to change in time to a police uniform with shoes and strapping on a gun and badge. He says he could not recall her ever leading an investigation. Perez says Young couldn't even unholster her own gun and he had to help her do that.
Response: Young denied the accusations, but declined to elaborate further on the record with NSBNews.net, but did offer up a response "off the record."
Video 5: Perez says good officers, including himself should not be driven out by a "coke snorting police chief." Perez says Young had a personal relationship with an ex-con he identified as "Hank Watson." Perez says Young helped Watson out by paying for his driver's license to be reinstated after he was released from prison for dealing cocaine and that she even had him cutting her lawn in Titusville where she lives. Perez says the chief blew up, feeling betrayed by Watson falsely telling officers of a sexual relationship between the two. Perez says he gave the police chief a "diplomatic warning" reminding her that cops are barred from associating with known felons.
Response: The chief denied she had a sexual relationship with Watson, but did acknowledge to NSBNews.net that Watson cut her grass. She declined to elaborate further on the record with NSBNews.net. City Commissioner Linda Hyatt told NSBNews.net on the record several weeks ago that the chief informed her that she had hired Watson to cut her grass because she was "trying to help him" and that was the extent of it.
Video 6: Perez alleges Young failed to respond to a domestic violence complaint at the home of former Mayor Mike Thompson and his then-wife Dana Thompson, during which the husband alledgedly fired his gun into a wall. Perez says Dana Thompson informed her of the incident, but asked her not to do anything about it. Perez says the chief asked him what she should do and he reminder her that by law she must act on the incident and investigate. Perez says "nothing was done." It was the second time Thompson had fired a gun, claiming the first time he was scaring off an alligator in the back yard.
Response: Young declined any wrongdoing, but gave NSBNews.net an "off the record" comment which was not clearly explained. Neither Mike Thompson nor Dana Thompson could be reached for comment by NSBNews.net.
Video 7: Perez claims he was sexually harassed by the chief, saing she referred to him as "Hey Dimples" and that she grabbed his butt.
Response: Young denied the sexual allegations, but declined to elaborate further on the record with NSBNews.net
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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via HeadlineSurfer.com. Florida's first around-the-clock newspaper was launched April 7, 2008, in New Smyrna Beach, initially as NSBNews.net and VolusiaNews.net. Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Headline Surfer® Publisher Henry Frederick, is recognized as one of Florida's top award-winning cops & courts reporters, who has received more awards for such coverage than any other reporter working in Central Florida. He's the top journalist in the Florida Press Club two years running with seven journalism awards for 15 breaking news and investigative stories, three blogs and top internet site. He's the only reporter to win awards for coverage of the Trayvon Martin slaying as well as the subsequent George Zimmerman murder trial acquittal in Sanford. He's also won state, regional and national journalism awards for his coverage of cops and courts fear 8 1/2 years at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, where he witnessed and reported on the execution of serial killer Aileen Wuornos and covered the civil trial brought by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt's widow to keep his autopsy files sealed. Before that before he covered cops & courts for Gannett Suburban Newspapers / The Journal News in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York, where he won a highly-coveted Associated Press Award for breaking news. Before launching the 24/7 internet newspaper in 2008, he was an award-winning city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette, in his native Massachusetts for two years, winning a national investigative award on municipal corruption. The first of Frederick's three books, for which he has secured publishing rights, is called "Creepy Ass Cracker" (840 pages, Xlibris), which will hit bookstores in September. His second book, "Wrestling ReWind," is expected to be published in January 2015. The third book is not yet titled.
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