The U.S. Department of Justice has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to review the handling of the Marco Island Police Department’s investigation of asbestos on the island.
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Assistant United States Attorney Douglas Molloy stated in a letter dated April 2 that he forwarded a citizens complaint related to the asbestos issue to the FBI for review.
Items that are part of the complaint include a letter signed by more than 50 Marco Island residents and mailed to Molloy’s office in Fort Myers, the State Attorney’s Office in Naples and Collier County Sheriff Don Hunter. Other materials include supporting documents of the complaint and a list of Web sites showing other documents and videos related to the asbestos issue and investigation on Marco Island.
"Butch" Neylon, one of the residents who signed the letter, said the package of materials was delivered to the FBI.
Neylon said Molloy advised him to ask MIPD detective Linda Guerrero to call FBI Agent Kevin McCormic of the bureau’s Naples office.
Neylon sent Guerrero an e-mail Wednesday about Molloy’s request and the department’s investigation of the asbestos found on Veterans Community Park. The site is located on Elkcam Circle and Joy Circle.
Marco Island Police Chief Roger Reinke on Thursday said he did not believe the situation comes within the FBI’s jurisdiction.
"The Marco Island Police Department’s investigation involves a state law violation of illegal dumping. The Federal Bureau of Investigation does not investigate this type of crime," Reinke said. "A citizen’s statement claiming that the United States Attorney’s Office wanted to pass a message to the Marco Island Police Department to call an FBI agent about this investigation is ludicrous and is not a reason for the police department to do so.
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"There is a proper protocol that law enforcement agencies follow when cooperating on investigations and this protocol does not involve passing messages through non-law enforcement sources," Reinke added.
The letter states that the parcel is "contaminated" with the material. The letter adds that Marco Island City Manager Bill Moss and Police Chief Roger Reinke said publicly that the asbestos was "planted" and a crime had been committed.
It also refers to a Marco Island City Council member publicly stating during a city council meeting that photographic evidence exists proving asbestos was planted at the park.
Councilor Glenn Tucker made the statement during a meeting.
According to the complaint, Moss, Reinke and the councilor have explicitly implied that the asbestos was placed at the site by citizens of the island.
"To suggest that citizens of Marco Island planted this material is ludicrous," Neylon said.
The Marco Eagle reported in the Oct. 27, 2006 issue that Reinke appointed Guerrero to investigate the asbestos on the site. No results of the investigation have been announced to date.
The complaint letter states that a city contractor crushed asbestos/concrete pipe at the park site. It states that the asbestos being at the park was a result of the misconduct and/or negligence of the contractor "that was subsequently hired to clean up that plot of land — three times" by Moss.
The letter continues, stating that the contractor intentionally or inadvertently putting the asbestos on the site contradicts the statements made by Moss, Reinke and the councilor. The letter states whoever was responsible for the asbestos being on the park may never be known and that the person or persons may never be prosecuted.
The document requests a criminal investigation of the MIPD’s investigation into the asbestos, who or what organization placed the asbestos on the site, and the accusations of crimes by citizens by Moss, Reinke and the councilor.
Marco Island City Manager Bill Moss said Thursday he has had no contact with the FBI regarding the agency’s review.
"This is a matter of an ongoing investigation by our police department," he said. "They may be in contact with the FBI."
The signed letter from citizens to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other agencies outlined the incident of asbestos concrete pipe material being found at the park.
Moss added he has not seen any documents allegedly provided by citizens.
"It appears to be just more nonsense," he said. "They have failed through the political process. They have failed through the legal process in court. And they are now making a futile attempt to get others in trouble so that they may reach their own personal agenda."
"The purpose of directing this letter to all of you is to seek, as we are entitled by law, investigations by agencies not complicit in the above noted affairs," the letter states.
Marco resident Roger Hall also signed the complaint letter. He noted that the city approved a contract with Quality Enterprises to clean up the park property of asbestos material.
Hall and Neylon alleged that Moss and city officials needed to make sure that the investigation of asbestos was deemed "inconclusive" so that the city could give Quality Enterprises the opportunity to remove the material from the park and regrade the site.
"As a result, the new contract gives Quality $950,000 of Marco Island taxpayers’ money to clean up the Veterans Community Park site," Neylon added.
Hall said he spoke to Guerrero on Wednesday. He claimed the lack of an aggressive investigation into the asbestos at the park enabled Moss to "push through a settlement that amounts to nothing more than a financial windfall to Quality Enterprises."
Hall said Guerrero replied that she knew the contractor placed the asbestos material on the site, but could not prove it.
"She said she needed an eye witness," Hall added.
Guerrero and MIPD Capt. Thom Carr did not return phone messages and e-mails requesting comment.
Molloy was in a court proceeding and not available for comment. McCormic was out of his office and not available for comment.