Judge grants request for competency evaluation of former ex-Everglades City mayor

Collier County Circuit Court Judge Ramiro Manalich granted a request Monday for a competency evaluation of former Everglades City Mayor Sammy Hamilton, Jr., who faces multiple counts of official misconduct and grand theft.  

Hamilton's legal counsel, Donald Day, filed a motion last month requesting the evaluation after noting Hamilton "has been unable to focus on the issues at hand."

More:Former Everglades City Mayor Hamilton accused of grand theft, official misconduct

Sammy Hamilton

Hamilton, 85, was arrested on July 16, 2018, and charged with 16 counts of official misconduct and one count of grand theft after authorities claimed he used his position to "deprive the Everglades City taxpayers" of $47,692.47 on either a temporary or permanent basis.

Hamilton was released from custody after posting $90,000 bond.

Between Aug. 20, 2013 and Sept. 5, 2017, Hamilton was accused of using taxpayer dollars for personal business expenses, including a condominium complex that was under construction.

In his role as mayor, Hamilton exercised supervision and direction over all departments and was responsible for signing all warrants, checks or claims of payment.

For funds to be drawn from the city's treasury, city council approval was required. The city clerk was also required to sign the financial documents. Authorities say these two requirements never occurred. 

Hamilton had served as the mayor from 1996 to Sept. 5, 2017, when he tendered his resignation.

More:Applause at Everglades City Hall as Mayor Sammy Hamilton resigns

Court documents stated that attorney Christopher Lombardo of Wood, Pires and Lombardo, P.A., met with Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agent supervisor Grant Wagner on Sept. 29, 2017, after noticing several suspicious financial transactions.

In this June 2013 file photo, Everglades City Mayor Sammy Hamilton reads the plaque he just unveiled, lauding his preservation of City Hall.

The law firm, which was hired by the City Council three months prior, flagged transactions that involved city funds being used to pay Hamilton's personal and private business expenses. City Clerk Dorothy Joiner confirmed to authorities that she had not signed any city checks for years.

Along with using taxpayer funds for construction, Hamilton was also accused of using an Everglades City credit card to buy boat parts for Everglades National Park Boat Tours, which he owned.

Although the purchases were allegedly for personal use, no sales tax was collected. The withholding of sales tax is consistent with government purchases.

Hamilton's next appearance in court has been scheduled for Oct. 3.