Lee County Commissioner Brian Bigelow released a one-page personal statement Friday morning in response to the citation he was issued for allowing a teenager without a license to drive his car this week and the events leading up to it.
Bigelow denies some of the details in the case as reported by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
"I will put my faith in the legal system because there has been an effort to mischaracterize the events of that day and find me guilty of criminal acts merely by association. Those are false implications and I am confident that the truth will prevail, but must await my day in court," Bigelow writes. in part.
Bigelow plans to finish commission term, says drug allegations 'simply not true'
Lee County Commissioner Brian Bigelow said he plans to finish the final days of his term despite reports he entered a known drug house in Fort Myers this week and received a criminal citation for allowing a teenager without a license to drive his car.
The teen, David Alexander Henley, was arrested Wednesday afternoon after deputies say they found him in possession of marijuana and cocaine. Henley, who turned 19 Thursday, told deputies he and Bigelow, 49, a passenger in the car, went to the house so he could "buy the weed."
He also said the commissioner regularly uses cocaine.
"It is simply not true, but the justice system will prove that, not a deputy or a commissioner," Bigelow said Thursday.
It's a tumultuous end to an often contentious six-year term on the commission for Bigelow, who has acknowledged his struggles with substance abuse in the past. Bigelow has said he considered ending his life in the early 1990s while he battled an alcohol addiction.
Bigelow declined to comment on the events Thursday as he worked to secure an attorney. However, he maintained he's been sober for 22 years.
"Because I've been open and honest about my alcoholism, people are going to think I fell off the wagon," he said.
Bigelow is set to leave the commission in less than two weeks. He stepped down earlier this year to make an ultimately unsuccessful run for county clerk.
"I hope that he has due process. It's different when you're in the public's eye," Commissioner Tammy Hall said of Bigelow. "I wish people would wait for all the facts before they judge him. I hope it isn't true.
"It's a shame, and I hope he's healthy and safe."
Lee deputies first spotted Bigelow's silver Ford around 1:20 p.m. on Wednesday when it pulled into a driveway of a known drug house off Ione Avenue in the Tice community, according to an arrest report.
There, an unknown woman exited the house and made "what appeared to be a hand to hand transaction," with the driver, Henley, reports said. The passenger, Bigelow, exited the vehicle and went inside the house.
The deputy stated in the report he believed a "possible narcotics transaction" took place. When the deputy later saw the Ford roll through a stop sign, he initiated a traffic stop, reports said.
The deputy reported smelling marijuana as he approached the car.
Henley told the deputy he didn't have a driver license and never had one. When the deputy asked about the smell of marijuana, Bigelow said, "a female at the house we were just at, walked up to the car smoking marijuana," according to reports.
When both Henley and Bigelow stepped out of the car, the deputy asked if either had any illegal drugs. Henley admitted to having a "nickel" bag of marijuana and pulled it out of his pants, reports said.
Bigelow began to act "extremely nervous. His hands began to shake noticeably and he began to sweat a lot," reports said.
In a compartment on the driver's side, deputies found a plastic bag with two white pills and a small amount of a green and brown leafy substance.
"Those are my pills," Bigelow said to the deputy, according to the report. They were later tested to be a non-controlled pain reliever.
The leafy substance — additional remnants were found all over the car — didn't test positive for marijuana "possibly due to the small amount," reports said.
Bigelow told the deputy the car was a rental and wasn't cleaned before it was rented to him. He said he was at that house because he bought his Pomeranian mix, Molly, from the woman there and wanted her to see the dog, reports said.
Bigelow told the deputy that he asked Henley to drive because Bigelow was texting. Henley said he told Bigelow he didn't have a license, but said Bigelow told him since Thursday was his birthday, it was a gift.
Bigelow received a criminal citation for allowing an unauthorized person to drive a motor vehicle.
Deputies arrested Henley, who is facing charges of driving without a license and possession of marijuana under 20 grams, a misdemeanor.
"Sir, we went to that house so I can buy the weed," Henley told a deputy, according to the report. "I bought the weed for $25 from the black lady."
Bigelow denied any knowledge.
Once at the jail, deputies searched Henley's possessions and found a $20 bill with a small bag containing cocaine. Henley, who received an additional charge of cocaine possession, told deputies Bigelow uses cocaine regularly.
Bigelow characterized Henley as a "family friend." Attempts to reach Henley and his family were unsuccessful.
However, Leysly Gaona, 22, a neighbor and former friend of Henley's, described him as "trouble." She said there are constantly people coming and going from his house.