Sheriff Donald F Eslinger
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"When Dirty Cops LIE about an Honest Police Officer:"

A Nightmare!

Imagine for a moment that you are a person who has devoted your life in the service of others and truly believes that the Oath that you took to protect citizens and obey our laws means something. Your career has propelled you forward. Your home life is intact. The child that you and your wife have raised is happy and loving. Everything is proceeding in your lives as planned and all of a sudden on the morning of December 8, 2011, upon returning from a motorcycle ride you turn the corner to your neighborhood and discover two unmarked Police vehicles at your home.

As time would later reveal what was about to happen to you and your family would be the result of lies told and written about you by fellow law enforcement officers within your own agency the Lake Mary Police Department and Seminole County Deputy Sheriff’s. As the next few hours would pass you would swear that it was a bad dream this had to be a nightmare but it was not. There was no waking up from this one. It was real. The handcuffs being placed on you were cold. The attitude of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Officers (FDLE) who were arresting you were no longer friendly. While the words spoken were professional you could see the contempt in their eyes.

There it was that look that you yourself had given to so many others who you had arrested for committing crimes. And now you were on the receiving end of their gaze. You would be driven away from your home in the full view of all of your neighbors. Your wife was there and she cannot believe what she is seeing. And you are so thankful that your daughter did not have to see any of this. But as time would have it, your daughter would also be harmed by all of this. And even before the news stories would hit the air waves the rumors would start. Later some of the neighbors would share their thoughts but then they are your neighbors and they too looked at you in a new way.

During that long ride to the Sheriff’s Office a thousand thoughts would run through your mind. This cannot be happening. What about my family? How is my wife and little girl doing? How will I be able to take care of them? How can I protect them? Why would these officers be doing this to me? They know me, they know that I am not a dirty cop and yet you cannot wake up from the nightmare. Upon arrival at the Sheriff’s Office you are processed in like every other criminal. You are treated by the correction deputies coldly. There is that look again.

You find yourself completely at the control of others not knowing what is next. Time drags by and is a blur. You know that any minute you are going to wake up and have a big laugh at how real this bad dream was. It never happens. You are processed in, bail is set. Bail is arranged and you are finally allowed to leave. You walk out the front door of the jail with your wife and brother at your side.

Waiting just outside the doors of the Sheriff’s Office you discover that the News media has been tipped off and like sharks smelling blood in the water they are on the attack. Being on the News had been fun in the past. After all they too liked you then and now even they were looking at you with that look. You would later learn that the same News media would not spend as much time in reporting the outcome in your case as they did to the original arrest. Vindication is not as exciting as a perp walk.

You finally get away and the hard part begins. Your first priority is your family. Your wife and daughter are living the nightmare with you and as months would pass they too would be changed by what had just happened.

Thankfully you did not have to live through what we at SeminoleWatch.com have ask you to imagine in the story above. But that is not the case for the Lake Mary Police Officer by the name of Christopher Dye. Officer Dye did live through this nightmare and he and his family, continue to do so each and every day.

So what was the crime Officer Dye was alleged to have committed? Officer Dye was arrested for destroying a statement written by Seminole County Deputy Sheriff Celine Rios. Only one problem, the statement was never destroyed. And how is it that we at SeminoleWatch.com can make this claim? Well we were able to obtain a copy of the "deleted" report directly from the Lake Mary Police Department. ( 1 )

Now common sense would dictate that if the statement was not deleted or destroyed then there was no crime. As time would reveal common sense would not be permitted in the investigation directed towards Officer Christopher Dye.

Since SeminoleWatch.com removed our original story about this incident titled, "WHEN IS A LIAR NOT A LIAR? WHEN SHERIFF ESLINGER SAYS SO!", some background is required. While the facts concerning the unlawful actions of Deputy Rios and Former SCSO Sgt. Bates were accurate in our original story, the premise that officer Dye committed an unlawful arrest of a bar owner was in error. Not only was the arrest determined to be lawful, but was admitted to by the person arrested.

Not only was the arrest of Mr. Sean DeSilva legal but facts would support that Officer Dye was more than patient with this citizen and business owner. No excessive force was used and statements would later be revealed which supported without doubt that Mr. DeSilva was intoxicated and obstructed Officer Dye who was conducting an investigation into the battery of a patron inside of the establishment owned by Mr. DeSilva.

Facts would prove that the arrest was lawful. No excessive force was used in the arrest of Mr. DeSilva. And that the first written statement by Deputy Rios was never deleted or destroyed. (1)

So what happened?

As the late Paul Harvey used to say, "And now the rest of the story."

On October 31, 2011 there was a Halloween Party at the bar owned by Mr. DeSilva. A disturbance broke out and a patron was injured. LMPD officers, PFC. Christopher Dye, PFC. Anthony Seda and Ofc. Rebekah Matviak (in training) as well as SCSO Deputy Celine Rios heard the disturbance and ran across the parking lot to the bar.

PFC. Dye while attempting to interview the victim, instructed the bar owner, Sean DeSilva, to stop obstructing his investigation and interfering with his investigation. Deputy Rios in order to assist PFC. Dye, grabbed Mr. DeSilva in an attempt to remove Mr. DeSilva from PFC. Dye who was attempting to interview the witness and locate the suspect. All statements would confirm that Mr. DeSiva was told numerous times to stop interfering. Mr. DeSilva himself would admit that he was intoxicated and that he had been warned numerous times.

While Deputy Rios was walking Mr. DeSilva to the rear door of the business with both of her hands on Mr. DeSilva, PFC. Dye observes Mr. DeSilva pull away from Deputy Rios. Pfc. Dye then stops his interviews in order to assist Deputy Rios and places both of his hands in the chest of Mr. DeSilva. Pfc. Dye directs Mr. DeSilva backwards through the doorway up against a pickup truck which is parked in the back alley. A video tape would later reveal that no excessive forced was used in placing handcuffs on Mr. DeSilva. (3) The News Media would attempt to present the video in a negative light; however, the video verified that the proper amount of force was used. Mr. DeSilva was not injured and would later admit he deserved to be arrested and had no problem with the actions.

But the most important fact was the sworn statement by Mr. DeSilva in which he admitted that at no time did PFC. Dye grab him by his throat as alledged by Deputy Rios.This fact would be verified by FDLE as well as all written statements by law enforcement officers.

Back to our story. Mr. DeSilva was removed from the bar and transported to the SCSO jail having been charged with Resisting arrest without violence/Obstruction of Justice and disorderly intoxication. And here is where everything changes for PFC. Dye. Unknown to him that while he is completing his arrest paperwork an investigation had started against him by Sgt. Gowan of the LMPD.

Later, in order to complete his paperwork which is required to be sent to the State Attorney’s Office, Pfc. Dye accesses the computer system of the SCSO/ LMPD (CAFE) in order to locate the written sworn statement of Deputy Rios. Upon entering the system, Pfc. Dye discovers two statements from Deputy Rios. (1)(2) Upon discovering these two statements, Pfc. Dye makes contact with Deputy Rios. It is at this time that Pfc. Dye seeks to obtain clarity as to why Deputy Rios provided two statements.

Without getting to technical, it has been discovered that the computer system which is used by both the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake Mary Police Department since 2004 does not permit the destruction of a report which was entered into their system. After a report is written and if the author of the report goes back into the system to even change one word or dot, the computer generates an entire new report. If you were to edit this second report, the computer would generate a third report and so on and so on.

In the case of PFC. Dye, since he was not the author of either of the reports by Deputy Rios, he could not change any of her statements. When confronted by two statements, Pfc. Dye, then contacted Dep. Rios in order to find out from her which statement to use. Having been informed of the order by Sgt. Bates and Sgt. Gowan, PFC. Dye submitted the second statement. And here is where the stupidity begins.

In order to attach the second statement by Deputy Rios, Pfc. Dye was required to click on the icon "Delete", which is authorized by the report writing system (CAFÉ). In other words, the system permitted PFC. Dye to take this action. Now by doing so this first statement is NOT DELETED, it is merely moved into a different file. Pfc. Dye could not submit both statements from Deputy Rios with his report and submitted only the one statement which he was given permission to use. These facts would later be verified by the IT Technicians and creator of the computer program within the SCSO as well as the statements of Deputy Rios, Sgt. Bates and Sgt. Gowan.

Pfc. Dye submits his report to the SAO and enter Lt. David Prince (Professional Standards LMPD). Former Lt. Prince, who is reported to have been fired from the LMPD, begins his Internal Investigation. It would be later revealed that Lt. Prince would file a perjured investigative report against Pfc. Dye which would be the basis for his arrest as well as being fired from the LMPD. (4)

If one were to read the Internal Investigative report by Lt. Prince without verifying the quotes of the witnesses to the incident in the report, you would think that Pfc. Dye might have committed the crime. But in the process of discovery it was revealed that what Lt. Prince wrote that others had said, were statements far removed from the truth. In simple English, Lt. Prince lied in his report several times.

So let us examine what has happened to some of these fine law enforcement officers involved in this incident.

SCSO Deputy Sheriff Celine Rios, SCSO PC-11-0052: (5)

1. "On November 2, 2011, Deputy Sheriff Celine Rios completed a second supplement to Lake Mary Police Department Offense Report #201170000831 that contained false statements related to probable cause for the arrest of Sean DeSilva."

2. "Rios was aware the statements were false when she prepared the statement."

3. "Although Rios prepared the supplement at the direction of her immediate supervisor, Rios was aware that doing so was improper."

4. "Rios did not avail herself to the provisions detailed in agency written directives regarding compliance with orders that are believed to be improper." (5, page 19)

Note:

During sworn testimony, Deputy Rios admitted that she thought that resisting an officer without violence and obstruction of justice were two different Florida Statutes. Deputy Rios further admitted that she believed the charge was a Felony crime and not a misdemeanor. Deputy Rios admitted that she was under this false belief the night of October 31, to November 1, 2011.

Even though Captain Martin L. Linnekugel’s investigation confirmed that Deputy Rios knew she intentionally falsified/fabricated evidence in a criminal complaint, to which she confessed, Sheriff Donald F. Eslinger changed the charge. Instead of making "False Statements and Reports", Sheriff Eslinger with a stroke of a pen changed the meaning of words and "SUSTAINED" a charge of "Obedience to Unjust or Improper Orders". And what was the "unjust or Improper Order"? Making a false statement and report.

PUNISHMENT RECEIVED: Suspension without pay for 86 hours. ( 6 )

SCSO SGT. Kristen Bates, SCSO PC-11-0052:

1. "On November 2, 2011, Sergeant Kristen Bates directed Deputy Sheriff Celine Rios to complete a second supplement limited to the probable cause/elements of the crimes(s) related to the arrest of Sean DeSilva."

2. "At that time, Bates was aware Rios believed that probable cause did not exist for the arrest of DeSilva."

3. "Bates did not use sound judgment or provide proper guidance when directing Rios to prepare a second supplement."

4. "Although Bates notified a supervisor, Lieutenant Matthew Hardesty, of the request for Rios to prepare a second supplement, there is no evidence she informed him that Rios did not believe probable cause existed."

5. "Bates’ actions constituted neglect of duty and had an adverse affect on the good order and reputation of the Sheriff’s Office."

Note:

Captain Martin Linnekugels’ Investigative Report states, "Although the actions of Sergeant Kristen Bates resulted in evidence in a criminal case being fabricated, the totality of the circumstances do not indicate that was her intention". In Sheriff Eslingers, Notice of Final Discipline, he writes,

"You initiated contact with the Lake Mary Police Sergeant to advise him of your belief that Deputy Rios’ statement was too detailed. You then directed Deputy Rios to rewrite a shorter statement that contained probable cause for the arrest."

Once again, Sheriff Eslinger, changes the meaning of words. Sheriff Eslinger leaves out the fact that Sgt. Bates ordered Deputy Rios to submit a supplemental report which Deputy Rios believed to contain false statements. Sheriff Eslinger SUSTAINED the violations of Conduct Unbecoming and Standards of Conduct.

PUNISHMENT RECEIVED: Demotion from Sergeant to Deputy Sheriff. Suspension without pay for 172 hours.(7)

LMPD SGT. Joseph F. Gowen, Internal Affairs Report 2011-01-20: (8)

"On November 1, 2011 at about 1600 hours, you conferred with Lieutenant Biles in reference to this case. You both agreed that Deputy Rios, who was with Dye during the arrest, needed to write a supplement to Dye’s case."

"You requested Bates to have Officer Rios redraft her supplement and not include all the information about the arrest as an IA would be conducted. Deputy Rios did not want to re-write her report but did so at the insistence of her supervisor. Sergeant Bates knew the first supplement was not signed, (still in draft form) and would stay with the case in another drive, therefore nothing would be missing. After the second supplement was written, you signed the case as the reviewing supervisor." (8)

Note:

Chief Steve A. Bracknell, Deputy Chief Colin Morgan and City Manager, Jackie Sova, acknowledged the fact that the first report by Deputy Celine Rios was never deleted by PFC. Dye but "would stay with the case in another drive" and "therefore nothing would be missing".

PUNISHMENT RECEIVED: NOTICE OF REMEDIAL ACTION – COUNSELING, 9.01 Group 1, # 6, Mistake Due to Carelessness, General order 1-4.3 Code of Conduct. (8)

LMPD Lt. Mike Biles, Internal Affairs Report 2011-01-20:

Note:

Even though Sgt. Gowan conferred with Lt. Biles in reference to this case, no action was taken against the highest ranking officer involved in this incident at the time that contact was made with Sgt. Bates. Lt. Biles failed to maintain control over this incident and as such was or was not aware of the second false statement written by Deputy Rios. Lt. Biles either knew or should have know that the first unsigned report by Deputy Rios was never deleted but would stay with the case in another drive.

PUNISMENT RECEIVED: none

LMPD Lt. David A. Prince,

Either fired or resigned under duress. Conflicting information has been obtained from Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Lake Mary Police Department concerning the circumstances which resulted in his unexpected letter of resignation. Should additional information be received as to the true reason for the departure of David Prince this information will be made public.

PUNISMENT RECEIVED: active investigation

Prosecution has been requested of David A. Prince on 2/22/2013 for: (9)

1. PERJURY IN AN OFFICIAL PROCEEDING, FSS 837.02 (9a.)
2. FRAUD-FALSE STATEMENT-PUBLIC SERVANT FALSIFY OFFICIAL DOCUMENT, FSS 838.022 (9b.)
(See public records LMPD Agency Offense Report # 201370000120) (9)

LMPD Chief of Police, Steve A. Bracknell,

A Citizens Complaint Statement was received on 2/22/2013 by the Lake Mary Police Department alleging violations of the Florida Police Officers Bill of Rights as protected by FSS 112.532 & FSS 112.534.
(See Public Records LMPD Event Number 20130532648)(10)(10a)(10b)

PUNISHMENT RECEIVED: active investigation

At the time of this article it is unknown what action the City of Lake Mary through the office of The City Manager, Jackie Sova, intends concerning this matter. Information provided to SeminoleWatch.com from Lt. Biles has confirmed that the complaints against Chief Bracknell and former Lt. Prince were turned over to the Florida Department of Law enforcement. At the time of this article being published it is unknown what action if any the FDLE intends to take concerning this complaint.

So let us now examine what has happened to PFC. Christopher Dye.

1. Criminal Charges- 11-5342-CFA, all charges dropped by the State Attorneys office (Nolle Prosequi) October 22, 2012 (11)

2. FDLE/Criminal Justice Standards & Training - no investigation into the allegations forwarded by Chief Bracknell, case number 33359 (12)(13)

3. City of Lake Mary Police Department – employment

a. Violation (1) General Order 1-6.05 Use of Force (excessive force)
b. Violation (2) General Order 1-6.05 Use of Force (reporting response to resistance)
c. Violation (3) General Order 1-4.03 Code of Conduct (abusive language & deleting report)
d. Violation (4) General Order 1-4.03 Code of Conduct (false statement to Sgt. Gowan)
e. Violation (5) General Order 1-4.03 Code of Conduct (untruthfulness in I.A.)

Note:

A hearing was conducted on January 24, 2013 by the City of Lake Mary in reference to the termination of PFC. Christopher Dye. During this hearing it was determined that all charges against PFC. Dye were not sustained with the exception of the allegation that PFC. Dye deleted the statement of Deputy Rios. Had it not been for the news coverage by Channel 9 Reporter Christopher Heath the facts presented would not have been believed.

Absent from this hearing was the former Lt. David Prince, the lead investigator who submitted falsified documents during an official proceeding. However, present at all times while all other witnesses testified was Chief Steve Bracknell. There is a legal practice which is called invoking the Rule of Sequestration. What this does is prevents witnesses from hearing the testimony of other witnesses so as to prevent people from getting their stories straight. The rule was invoked and at the last moment the City Attorney called Chief Bracknell to the stand. Objections were made as to a witness being permitted to hear the other statements but the City prevailed and Chief Bracknell was permitted to testify.

And yet watching Chief of Police Steve Bracknell stand by his decision to fire PFC. Dye even after admitting that he was ignorant in the CAFÉ’ computer system was disturbing. To observe his face become red when questioned by PFC. Dye’s Attorney was entertaining to say the least. But to hear that knowing now that Deputy Rios’ first statement was never “deleted” would the Chief now admit he was mistaken and correct his error, to which the Chief replied “ No”, was unbelievable. Not to mention watching Deputy Rios testify about the placement of PFC. Dye’s hands on Sean DeSilva’s chest, not his throat as was written to and sworn by Lt. Prince in his final report concerning the actions of PFC. Dye.

The old expression, "Pride goes before a fall", was never more appropriate than what was witnessed coming from the mouth of Chief Bracknell. Here he was having to explain why the investigation which was conducted by his old elementary school friend, David Prince, was so botched as to result in all criminal charges against Pfc. Dye having been dismissed and two of the five original charges he himself having dismissed, now resulting in the Chief of Police having to be questioned by a representative of one of his former officers.

After all testimony was heard the board clearly recognized that the arrest of Sean DeSilva was lawful and that at no time was excessive force used. The Untruthfulness in an I.A charge was also, immediately dismissed which left the issue of deleting the statement. Of the three Board members one was a younger officer who identified himself as somewhat of a computer geek. This officer went into great detail attempting to educate the other two board members that the “DELETE” button does not delete anything it only moves the statement into another file and the action was permitted by the Cafe system.

But for these other two Board Members the facts had no place in this hearing. They had it set in their minds that they knew what was in the mind of PFC. Dye when he hit the "DELETE" button. The sad thing was to watch these two admitted computer ignorant officers try to justify their decision. What ever happen to common sense?

Everyone was in full agreement that the arrest was lawful. Pfc. Dye did not use excessive force and as a matter of fact the one Board Member admitted that Pfc. Dye waited too long and gave Sean DeSilva too many chances. This Board member even stated that he, would have used even greater force. It was further confirmed that Pfc. Dye did not even ask for a second statement from Deputy Rios and that the second statement was the result of the actions of Sgt. Bates, Sgt. Gowan and Lt. Biles

Now just for a moment use a little common sense. If you are an officer and you have made a lawful and proper arrest and as such there is no reason to hide anything. And since there is no reason to hide anything why would you need to hide a statement. Let alone to destroy a statement from a rookie Deputy who admittedly does not even know the statutes involved nor if they are felonies or misdemeanors.

Common sense failed to appear in the minds of these two Board members and with a two to one vote the allegation was sustained concerning the "Deleting" of a file which was not deleted. On February 6, 2013, City Manager Jackie Sova, upheld the termination of Christopher Dye.

So what now? Where does an honest Police Officer turn to seek justice? Well our system of justice mandates that the Plaintiff exhaust every local remedy before going to the Courts to seek a civil remedy for an injury done to you by your employer. Now all that is needed is an attorney willing to fight a local government and the financial resources to seek that justice.

So that is the civil remedy. How about the crimes committed against Christopher Dye? Let us not forget that lies were told, false statements were made in official proceedings which resulted in the arrest of Christopher Dye approximately five weeks after the alleged “Deletion”. There was no impaneling of a Grand Jury. The Office of Norman Wolfinger did not issue an arrest warrant. Christopher Dye was placed under arrest at his home in front of his wife and removed from his home based on the belief of probable cause by an Agent of the FDLE. The crime would later be proven never to have happened.

To say that this has been a nightmare for Christopher Dye his family and friends is an understatement. The harm and damage caused by the dirty cops who willfully, knowingly and intentionally decided to lie about this honest Police Officer cannot be measured. How does one put a price on the damage caused to your family? What measuring device is there for the emotional roller coaster that has taken over a year to ride out? How do you even begin to repair the damage to the reputation of an Honest Police Officer?

An apology would be a good start. But that requires a big man or woman of integrity to admit they were wrong and to begin the healing process. Here is an idea, what about just making Christopher Dye whole again. Return that which was taken from him. Sometimes you just have to do it because it is the right and honorable thing to do.

CLICK ON BELOW DOCUMENTS:

  1. Deputy Rios’ 1st Statement
  2. Deputy Rios’ 2nd Statement
  3. Video Tape
  4. Lake Mary Police Department Internal Investigation 2011-01-20
  5. Seminole County Sheriff’ Department Administrative Review PC-11-0052
  6. Notice of Final Discipline, SCSO Deputy Celine Rios, March 2, 2012
  7. Notice of Final Discipline, SCSO Sgt. Kristen Bates, March 2, 2012
  8. Notice of Remedial Action, LMPD, Sgt. Joseph F. Gowen
  9. LMPD Offense Report 201370000120
    1. FSS 837.02 Perjury in an Official Proceeding
    2. FSS 838.022 Fraud- False Statement – Public Servant Falsify Official Document
  10. LMPD Event Number 20130532648
    1. FSS 112.532
    2. FSS 112.534
  11. Nolle Prosequi, Criminal Charges 11-5342-CFA, October 22, 2012
  12. FDLE/CJSTC, no investigation Case Number 33359
  13. FDLE/CJSTC, Letter to Chief Bracknell

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
-Edmund Burke