JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While the city’s general counsel mulls over the looming legal issues surrounding Sheriff Williams’ move to Nassau County, there are calls for his salary and retirement to be paid back to the taxpayers if lawyers determine Williams vacated his seat last spring.
Northside Coalition president Ben Frazier told News4JAX this is an issue of trust, transparency and accountability to the people of Jacksonville. He says Sheriff Williams violated that trust and he wants the sheriff’s salary, and retirement contributions returned to the city if the general counsel finds he indeed vacated his job.
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“What this sheriff needs to understand he is not above the law, that he’s just like the rest of us, he has to uphold the law, he should be in fact leading by example,” Frazier said.
Northside Coalition president Ben Frazier says Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams appears to be in denial about the Jacksonville city charter, which states the sheriff must live in Duval County, and if he moves out of it, he has vacated the office. In the last few days - Williams revealed to the public he moved to Nassau County last spring. Frazier says taxpayers are owed the salary the city paid him if the general counsel determines Williams vacated his office.
″I think there are several questions that are going to come up, some of those questions involve promotions, disciplinary actions, contracts he’s signed, his own salary, his own retirement and perhaps there’s going to be a need for some kind of legal settlement,” Frazier said.
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Frazier says Williams move to Nassau County, without informing anyone, violated the public’s trust, and he’s demanding an investigation into who knew what and when. We asked attorney Tad Delegal – who once served as an attorney to the local police union - if Frazier’s demands that portion of his salary must be given back … are legitimate demands.
“Well, there are legitimate questions. I’m not sure if they are entitled to get their money back, or, or what if he could be successfully sued?” Delegal said. “He was performing some work, you know, and generally, when someone performs work, they’re entitled to wages. So I think it may be difficult to recoup that. But then again, you know, here you’ve got somebody who was a public official who may not have been qualified to be a public official, and there may be some kind of claim for a recoupment of at least some of that money.”
Delegal said law enforcement and prosecutors often claim that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for the violation or crime. He says the same premise applies in Williams’ case, and believes the general counsel will find that Williams vacated his position when he moved to Nassau County last year
″The danger in law enforcement is always concluding that since I’m a good person, if I’m a law enforcement officer, concluding that since I’m a good person, that all of my decisions must be good and not evaluating your own actions,” Delegal said. “And that’s a kind of hubris that I think becomes dangerous.”