Ex-city clerk out of jail, charged with stealing taxpayer dollars

Former Hampton official arrested, charged with organized scheme to defraud

HAMPTON, Fla. – The former city clerk for a North Florida city bonded out of jail Tuesday afternoon after she was arrested and charged with pocketing thousands of dollars' worth of taxpayer money, according to law enforcement officials.

Jane Hall, 59, was arrested Tuesday morning by Bradford County Sheriff's Office deputies and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents on a warrant for organized scheme to defraud.

Hall is accused of stealing funds while she managed the city of Hampton, which sits between Jacksonville and Gainesville. She stepped down from her city clerk position last year.

Hampton gained national notoriety when allegations of corruption among its officials surfaced. Last year, City Council members voted to disband the city's police department, which was also accused of a number of unethical practices, like running a speed trap and misappropriating money. 

FDLE agents have been investigating Hall's alleged white-collar crime since February 2014. They worked with Bradford County deputies to find a number of issues and then arrested Hall, whom they believe was at the center of the corruption.

Hall was silent as a deputy led her into the Bradford County Jail on Tuesday.

Investigators said that over several years, Hall stole taxpayer dollars, a crime they said was uncovered when state auditors discovered thousands of city dollars missing.

A 42-page audit showed that Hall never deposited Hampton residents' water bill payments. More than $19,000 remains missing. She's also accused of writing personal checks to herself from the city's accounts, overpaying herself more than $8,000.

DOCUMENT: City of Hampton Operational Audit

"It is a very tight-knit community," BCSO Capt. Brad Smith said. "They have great people down there. There were a couple of bad apples that were spoiling it for the rest of the barrel, and I'm just glad to see that this investigation has led to the point where we are at today and that somebody is being held accountable."

Hampton's population is 477, and claims of corruption have rocked the retirement community over the past few years, casting the city in a bad light.

"We knew it would happen," Hampton City Council Chairman Dan Williams said. "We didn't know what the disposition would be. We knew the investigation was going on, so there has been a certain amount of tension."

Williams, whose family has been in Hampton for a century, said the people there are trying hard to build a better reputation.

"Hampton is a great little city," Williams said. "What she has, she has had to fight for. The folks that are in Hampton now who are trying to straighten up everything, we realize that we have a lot of work to do."

The investigation is ongoing, and it's unclear if anyone else will face charges.

Hampton now has a new mayor, a new city clerk and a new bookkeeper. The officials said they're focused on building a better future.  

This isn't the first time that city officials from Hampton have found themselves behind bars though. 

Ex-Hampton mayor gets 5 years in prison for selling oxycodone

The former mayor of Hampton was convicted in April 2014 of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and illegal distribution of a controlled substance and was sentenced to five years in prison. 

Barry Moore was also ordered to pay $875 in court costs.

Moore was arrested in November 2014 after Bradford County deputies said he illegally sold prescription medication, namely oxycodone.

A jury took about an hour and a half to return two guilty verdicts against Moore.