Former Columbia County Sheriff’s Office employee arrested after FDLE investigation

Clayton Pyle (Provided by Columbia County Sheriff's Office)

A former Columbia County Sheriff’s Office employee was arrested following an investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, authorities said.

Clayton Pyle, 37, was a detention officer with the Sheriff’s Office and was terminated after he left Florida while on administrative leave, according to the agency.

The Sheriff’s Office said the investigation began in February when information was received that Pyle was possibly introducing contraband into the Columbia County Detention Facility.

“Once it was determined that those allegations would likely be confirmed, Pyle was placed on administrative leave,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Wednesday. “To ensure impartiality, Sheriff Hunter requested FDLE to conduct a criminal investigation.”

The Sheriff’s Office said the investigation resulted in Pyle’s arrest. According to the Sheriff’s Office, he was taken into custody on a local warrant in Illinois.

Now that the criminal investigation has concluded, an administrative investigation will be completed in accordance with agency policy and Florida statute, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“I am firmly committed to holding our employees to the highest ethical standard,” said Sheriff Mark Hunter in a statement. “Our profession relies heavily on trust and I will not tolerate this type of conduct. We will do whatever it takes to ensure we are holding ourselves accountable. This individual thought he could avoid consequences by moving away. All he achieved was delaying the inevitable. I want to thank FDLE for partnering with us to bring this individual to justice.”

At the request of the sheriff, the Sheriff’s Office said, Pyle was extradited back to Florida and booked into the Columbia County jail with a $105,000 bond. He was then moved to a neighboring facility.