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Former Atlantic Beach police chief arrested

Former Atlantic Beach Police Chief Mike Classey
Former Atlantic Beach Police Chief Mike Classey

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Florida Department of Law Enforcment agents have arrested Mike Classey, who resigned last week as chief of the Atlantic Beach Police Department.

Classey, 50, was placed on administrative leave Sept. 19 after the city was informed of a criminal investigation being conducted by the FDLE. One week ago, Classey resigned.

On Tuesday, Classey was arrested and charged with 18 counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of trafficking in codeine, tampering with evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia. Authorities said Classey turned himself in and was booked into the Duval County jail on $136,036 bond.

"It's a terrible, sad day to have to lock up one of our own, but we all sign on the hold ourselves to a higher standard," said FDLE Special Agent Dennis Bustle.

State Attorney Angela Corey and FLDE officials said agents began to investigate Classey after receiving a tip from the Department of Homeland Security, which intercepted a package containing controlled substances from India addressed to "Michael Cassey" at a UPS store post office box. Agents say Classey went to the store to retrieve that package, along with another a second package. 

One contained Xanax and the other contained injectable steroids.

During a search of Classey's East Arlington home on Sept. 19 by FDLE and federal agents turned up what authorities described as large quantities of various steroids, Codeine, Xanax and syringes.

Dr. Gary Roberts said drugs like Xanax, Codeine and Alprazolam are some of the most highly sought after, easily obtainable and abused drugs on the market.

Roberts said places like India and Internet pharmacies in other countries are hotspots for black market drug sales, because often times they're not regulated and all you need is money.

"If you can find the pharmacy in another country that will give it to you. You don't have to have a prescription or anything," said Roberts.

Authorities said there is no evidence that Classey was selling the drugs, so the trafficking charge was based on the amount of Codeine he had.

Agents said when asked for the computer on which he ordered the drugs, he told them he had asked his son to dispose of it. Investigators later found it in a trash container, which resulted in the tampering with evidence charge.

"We think any crime committed by those of us who are in law-enforcement have to be treated very, very seriously," said Corey.

Classey's neighbors said an unusually large number of guns was also removed from the home.

Classey's colleagues said Classey is apologetic about the embarrassment this brings to the department, which he was appointed to lead in 2008.

"Just never would have guessed," Atlantic Beach Mayor Carolyn Woods said last week. "You don't expect someone in charge of the law in your city to be investigated for being on the other side of it. So yes, very surprised."

The city has started contacting police agencies across the country, searching for a replacement. In the meantime, an interim chief has been appointed.

"The people of Atlantic Beach can be confident the department will function as it has," city manager Nelson Vanliere said. "Vic Gallilo will take over and be in charge."

Vanliere said Classey's resignation is not tied to the Police Department or his job.