Former Marco councilor will not face perjury investigation due to statute requirements
A state statute that governs the limits of when perjury can be charged will save a former Marco Island city councilor from being investigated.
Details in an EEOC complaint filed against the police department in December appear to suggest that former Councilman Bob Brown made false statements to detectives about the battery investigation into former City Manager Lee Niblock, including what he knew and when he knew it.
The Collier County Sheriff's Office said Monday that it cannot open an investigation into Brown because the degree of the case his statements were made in conjunction with was not severe enough.
"Because Mr. Niblock was charged with a misdemeanor, Mr. Brown’s statement to detectives does not meet the criteria for a making false statements to law enforcement investigation under Florida Statute 837.055," Collier County Sheriff's Office PIO Karie Partington said.
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In a complaint alleging gender discrimination, harassment and defamation by the Marco Island Police Department, records clerk Heather Comparini included details about a closed-door meeting on Feb. 8, 2018, in which Police Chief Al Schettino and Brown discussed the investigation and appeared to be seeking Niblock's ouster.
After the meeting, Brown spoke with former Sgt. Mike Vogel with Comparini in the room and stated, "we want to get rid of him," in reference to Niblock.
Comparini's statements were also corroborated by Vogel in an interview with the Marco Eagle last week.
The problem with what was alleged in the complaint was that it was inconsistent with what Brown told Collier County Sheriff's Office Sgts. Wade Williams and Raul Roman in a sworn interview that was audio-recorded.
Despite being placed under oath, Brown neglected to mention his meeting with Schettino or what he was told then, lending credence to the appearance of his statements to the Sheriff's Office being untrue.
Nearly one year after being terminated by the city of Marco Island, Niblock pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge, which saw him ordered to pay $622, split between court and prosecution costs, and avoid contact with the victim, Marco Island Academy Principal Melissa Scott.
Under state statute, first-degree misdemeanor perjury can only be charged if someone "knowingly and willfully gives false information to a law enforcement officer who is conducting a missing person investigation or a felony criminal investigation with the intent to mislead the officer or impede the investigation."
Third-degree felony perjury can only be charged if someone "knowingly and willfully gives false information to a law enforcement officer who is conducting a missing person investigation involving a child 16 years of age or younger with the intent to mislead the officer or impede the investigation, and the child who is the subject of the investigation suffers great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or death."
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