Mitzel, who is in his early 50s, acknowledges his role in greasing the revenue pipeline from the speed trap out on U.S. 301. But he says he always intended for the money to come back to the city. All he ever saw was shiny new police cars in a place where old cars rust in front yards because there's no code enforcement.

"Where did all the money go?" he asked. "I hate to say it, but in somebody's pocket."

Mitzel's daddy served on the City Council for years. He said the way Hampton's government is set up, the employees had the run of City Hall and they didn't cotton to dissent.

"If you start questioning, they turn things on you. I got out when the getting was good." His salary as mayor -- $125 a month -- wasn't worth the hassle, he said.

The last mayor, Barry Layne Moore, was in office for just a few weeks when he was locked up and accused of being a drug dealer. He says he's not sure whom to blame for his predicament.

On a recent afternoon, Moore shuffled into a visitor's room at the Bradford County Jail in orange plastic slide-on sandals that matched his orange jumpsuit. His hands were cuffed in front of him, his ankles shackled. He took a seat and smiled, looking a little puzzled.

He allegedly sold a single 30-milligram pill of oxycodone -- a "blueberry" in street parlance -- to an undercover sheriff's informant for $20. He denies the charge and swears he's going to beat the case in court. He's been sitting in jail in Starke, about 10 miles up the road from Hampton, since a few days before Thanksgiving. He can't raise the $4,500 required to bond out.

He's still the mayor, he thinks, although Gov. Rick Scott has suspended him. He thinks he's being made a scapegoat to steer attention away from the audit and Hampton's bigger problems. He talks about himself as a little fish swept up in a big net.

"They made it sound as if I was running some kind of pill mill right out of my house, which is not the case at all," he said. "If I was some kind of drug dealer, I would at least have a car. I ride a bicycle around town. I had my lights cut off twice last year. If I am a dope dealer, why are my lights getting cut off?

"I'm a good guy that got caught up in a bunch of nonsense that was bigger than me."

He grew up in Hampton and worked as a general laborer until he got hurt. The first time, a forklift hit him. The second time, he fell off a roof. He says he is in constant agony and has taken prescription painkillers for the past 22 of his 52 years. He admits that he is addicted to oxycodone, which is what brought him to this little yellow brick jail.

He wasn't in office during the period the audit covers, and he hadn't seen a copy. But from what he's heard, it made it appear as if Hampton were being run by a coterie of crooks.

"I think that's not very far from the truth at all. They are either a bunch of crooks or a bunch of stupid people," he said with a rueful laugh. "I hate to say it like that, but it's the truth. I look like a crook sitting here in an orange suit, don't I?"

The way Moore sees it, he was targeted for arrest "as part of a systematic way to tear the town of Hampton down."

But why would anyone want to do that? Hampton seemed to be doing a pretty good job by itself.

'One heck of a debacle'

There are two reasons for the City of Hampton to exist: to provide water to 477 people and to protect the peace. Some 89 years after it became a city, the audit revealed how badly Hampton botched both jobs.

Nearly half the water the city pumps from the Suwanee River simply vanishes. Leaky pipes are partially to blame, but in some cases, the water goes to buildings without working meters. Some customers may have been getting free water for years.

Hampton's bigger problems grew out of the city's duty to "keep the peace." It led to what everyone calls "the annexation" in the early 1990s.

Somebody got the idea to snap up an easement along both sides of County Road 18 and a 1,260-foot stretch of U.S. 301. Because of the annexation, the bird's eye view of Hampton resembles a lollipop on a stick. Or, depending on your point of view, a fist with a raised middle finger. Most outsiders take the second view.