Sheriff Donald F Eslinger
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Chief Steve A. Bracknell of the Lake Mary Florida Police Department

"LOOKING FOR A FEW DIRTY COPS"

In most cases in the real world, an employer would run away from hiring a liar or any person involved with the sexual harassment of female employees. Such is not the case with the employment practices of the Lake Mary Police Department under the leadership of Chief Steve Bracknell.

In our previous stories concerning David A. Prince we were able to expose the disgusting past of Mr. Prince and of his verbally and physically sexually harassing seven female victims of the Winter Park Police Department. (1,2). As those stories were researched , information would be uncovered which proved that other presently employed police officers of the Lake Mary Police Department (LMPD) had been investigated by the Winter Park Police Department (WPPD) and then permitted to resign while under investigation.

This article will focus on one of these “fine officers” identified as James J. Wallace. While the incident which resulted in WPPD officer Wallace submitting his resignation was not as severe as those of Mr. David Prince, we believe that the nature and character of Mr. Wallace has been revealed.(3)

Our investigation into recently promoted Lieutenant James J. Wallace began with a simple suggestion to look into the public records of the WPPD as they pertain to officers who were presently employed with the LMPD which had formerly been employed with the WPPD. Without any difficulty, SeminoleWatch.com was able to obtain “all investigative records” on James J. Wallace concerning the incident which resulted in his (Wallace’s) tendering his resignation. (4)(4A)

As a side note we were able to discover that a "Background Investigation Report" which was conducted by Investigator Steven W. Meyer of the Maitland Police Department dated 5/5/2003, on applicant James J. Wallace stated: (5)

"Officer Wallace resigned while under investigation. The other Officer was given an unspecified suspension. All investigative records have been purged. Only the log and a copy is attached to the file."

We at SeminoleWatch.com cannot understand how Maitland Police Department, Background Investigator, Steven W. Meyer could write this statement in his report when we were able to obtain all of the records which Mr. Meyer stated had been purged. Maybe one day someone will pursue this matter and get to the truth as to the motivation and mindset of Mr. Meyer and why he would submit this written false statement.

So exactly what information was concealed in these "purged investigative records"? Could this information expose the character and habits of James J. Wallace? And how is it that James J. Wallace was able to obtain employment with the Maitland Police Department and the Lake Mary Police Department given the facts presented in the WPPD investigative report?

The answer appears very simple. All that is needed are people assigned to conduct background checks who are either incompetent or are knowingly, intentionally and willfully constructing their background investigative reports in such a manner as to conceal information if presented to the proper authorities would result in the denial of the applicant. Why these background investigators would take such an action which could jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of the taxpayers has yet to be revealed. Our investigation was able to verify the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW. As to the WHY, well that is "yet" to be revealed.

This article will focus on how James J. Wallace was able to be hired twice by the Lake Mary Police Department. The first time as a part-time Police Officer in 2002. The second time as a full-time Police Officer in 2004. Documents would reveal that an Investigative Report would be completed by Inspector Steve A. Bracknell on February 11, 2002 for the part-time position of Law Enforcement Officer. And yes this the same Bracknell who is presently the Chief of Police for the Lake Mary Police Department.(6)

In reading this Background Investigative Report, by Insp. Bracknell, there is no mention at all of the Internal Investigation of Officer James J. Wallace by the WPPD which resulted in Wallace tendering his resignation on July 16, 1999. The only mention of the Winter Park Police Department was located on Page 2 of the Background Investigative Report which stated:

"Finally, I contacted Sergeant Randall Durkee of the Winter Park Police Department. Sgt. Durkee indicated that the applicant was a very good employee and his work product was excellent. He was disappointed when the applicant decided to leave the agency to work in the private sector."

A closer examination of this document would reveal that Wallace has listed DAVID A. PRINCE as a reference which he (Wallace) had known for 10 years.(7) In the closing statement of this Background Investigative Report Inspector Steve A. Bracknell writes:

"On February 4, 2002 the applicant submitted to a C.V.S.A. examination conducted by Inspector Steve A. Bracknell. The applicant was truthful on all relevant questions. No admissions were made. Chart indicated N.O.I."

"After review of and investigating provided information, I can find no information that would preclude the applicant from employment with the City of Lake Mary."

"I recommend that we forward the applicant’s background to the City Manager for final approval."

On 2/18/2002 Chief of Police Richard Beary approved this recommendation.

So how is it that Inspector Steve A. Bracknell failed to locate the WPPD Internal Investigation Report Case Number 99-010 dated 17 June 1999? (4). Or was Insp. Bracknell able to locate this report? And if Insp. Bracknell was able to locate the report why did he (Bracknell) not include the facts of the investigation in his report? Would the facts, of the WPPD Investigation which exposed James J. Wallace, if revealed to Chief Beary have resulted in a different recommendation? What was the motivation of Insp. Bracknell to knowingly, intentionally and willfully omit these facts from his report?

So what was in this WPPD Internal Investigation Report which was conducted by Sergeant Wayne Farrell which was hidden from Chief Beary? Or was it? The investigation was initiated as a result of a complaint of a Citizen over the improper conduct or indecency of Officer James J, Wallace while on duty. Officer Wallace was found to have violated a City Policy "which would tend to affect the employees relationship to his job, his fellow workers, his reputation or goodwill in the community" as well as conduct unbecoming a member of the Department, to wit:

1. Officer Wallace engaged in a non-job related conversation in the parking lot of the YMCA where members of the public were present, specifically the complainant and a young juvenile.

2. Officer Wallace engaged in a conversation about Officer Owen’s romantic relationship with an Orlando Police officer. He used the phrase "Did you bang her?"

3. Officer Wallace engaged in a conversation about Houston’s female employees whom Officer Owens had dated. The question of whether Officer Owens had sex with them was mentioned.

4. Officer Wallace made mention of several females that walked passed them in the parking lot. He, on at least one occasion stated, "Look at that ass and nice tits."

5. Officer Wallace made the statement, "I have a fucking cold." He, during this conversation spat out phlegm onto the ground several times in the public view.

6. The complainant felt impelled to report the incident because he felt that the conversation in his presence was unprofessional of the officers. (8)

As a result of this Internal Investigation, on July 7, 1999, WPPD Chief of Police Douglas M. Ball sent Reserve Officer Joe Wallace a letter advising him (Wallace) that the City of Winter Park proposes to terminate his employment as a Reserve Officer because of his actions. (9)

On July 16, 1999, nine days after receiving Chief Balls letter, Joe Wallace submits his one line letter of resignation:

"As of today’s date, July 16, 1999, please accept my resignation as a reserve officer for The Winter Park Police Department." (3)

Just in case our readers have forgotten, Insp. Bracknell also conducted the Background Investigative Report on DAVID A. PRINCE. It was revealed that Bracknell did this first report on Wallace in February 2002 and the PRINCE report in April 2002. It appears that while the Winter Park Police Department was cleaning its house of these "fine" officers, Insp. Bracknell was doing everything he could to give those former Winter Park Police Department rejects a job in the City of Lake Mary.

Also discovered in the LMPD employment application dated 1-17-2002, submitted by Joe Wallace, on page # 8, Mr. Wallace stated that the reason that he left the WPPD as a "full time" officer on 7/99 was due to :

"accepting a job with Universal" (10)

It should also be noted that on page # 15 of this same application that Mr. Wallace, "while under oath" stated:

"I, James J. Wallace understand that any employment or appointment offered to me will be contingent upon the results of a complete character and fitness investigation, and I am aware that willfully withholding information or making false statements on this application or submissions of falsified or erroneous documents with this application will be the basis for disqualification for employment and or dismissal from the Lake Mary Police Department and possible decertification action by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission of the State of Florida." (11)

For whatever reason, James J. Wallace, failed to reveal in this first application dated January 17, 2002, that he had been investigated by the WPPD, that the investigation was sustained and that he had been notified by Chief Ball that the WPPD was proposing to terminate his employment. Nor did Wallace reveal that he resigned while under investigation.

As you can imagine Wallace gets hired by the Lake Mary Police Department as a part-time office on 5-3-2002 where he remains until he is hired by the Maitland Police Department (MPD) on 4-28-2003 as a full time officer. What is interesting to note is that in the April 4, 2003 Maitland Police Department’s Application Mr. Wallace admitted to having been terminated or asked to resign from a job. James J. Wallace writes:

"I was asked to resign from the Winter Park Police Dept. while I held the Position of Reserve Police Officer, due to an incident where a citizen complained on me and another officer for using inappropriate language." (12)

So here is a problem, are we to believe the 2002 LMPD Application or the 2004 MPD Application? Well does it really matter? It is not like Wallace signed these Applications under oath or did he? But then what really is an Oath? And after all nobody cares any more. And why should we care if our Public Servants lie? Everybody does it. Remember former Sgt. Bates and Deputy Rios of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

On June 7, 2004, James J. Wallace submits his second application with the Lake Mary Police Department but this time for a full time Police officer position.(13) On page #1 of this application Wallace states that he has never been discharged for misconduct or unsatisfactory service from any job. Once again which Application are we to believe? Did Wallace forget his statement in the Maitland Police Dept. application fourteen months earlier?

Once again who cares that Wallace signed this application under Oath. Needless to say guess which employee is assigned to conduct this second background on Wallace? If you guessed Steve A. Bracknell you win the prize. But wait, Bracknell now holds the position of Operations Commander with the Lake Mary Police Department and once again Steve A. Bracknell fails to mention the 1999 WPPD investigation and once again Operations Commander Steve A. Bracknell recommends that Wallace continue with the applicant process. (14)

As a point of interest, located within this second LMPD application was a June 11, 2004 Memo from Sgt. Michael Biles concerning the background of James Joseph Wallace in which Sgt. Biles writes:

"… I think that he would be an excellent candidate for a police officer with the City of Lake Mary." (15)

As a result of this intensive, detailed, thorough, professional background investigation, Chief Richard Beary hires James J, Wallace as a full-time Police Officer on July 12, 2004.

Our story does not end there. Time passes on and Chief Richard Beary leaves the Lake Mary Police Department. Steve A. Bracknell becomes the Chief of Police for Lake Mary Florida. Lt. David A. Price continues his reign of sexual harassment under the leadership of Chief Bracknell. A Sexual harassment complaint against Prince results in his resignation from the Lake Mary Police Department.

With the departure of David A. Prince upward mobility results in Chief Bracknell promoting Sergeant James J. Wallace to Lieutenant and transfers Lt. Wallace to Patrol. Lt. Michael Biles is transferred from Patrol to the Detective Bureau which was formally Prices job and bad behavior continues to be rewarded.

But our story about the hiring practices of Steve A. Bracknell is not exclusive to just men. It seems as if Chief Bracknell not only does everything he can to conceal the past bad behavior of former male Winter Park Police Officers but he is an equal opportunity employer and hires a former female Winter Park Police officer who also resigned while under investigation.

But in the case of former WPPD Sergeant Lorri Kae Szczepanski aka Lorri Kae Lilja her violations centered around having a problem with telling lies during an internal investigation. In the case of Sgt. Szczepanski an investigation was conducted which resulted in her receiving notification from WPPD Chief of Police Douglas Ball on July 26, 2006 that:

"The penalty being considered at this time is discharge." (16)

In Chief Ball’s letter to Sgt. Szczepanski he writes:

"By far the Department’s most serious concern in this matter is that, by the overwhelming weight of evidence, you knowingly and repeatedly gave untruthful testimony on material facts. Truthfulness is one of the essential requirements for law enforcement work. While the inadequate and inattentive supervision< which took place during the training is a matter of concern, it alone would not constitute a discharge offense. However, subject, of course, to the response which you or your representative present, the untruthfulness reflected in the report is basis for your discharge from employment."

A check with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement revealed that Officer Lorri Kae Lilja "Resigned/Retired While Being Investigated for Violation of Moral Character Standards" on 8/04/2006. (17)

On 08/01/2006 Lorri K. Szczepanski submitted an Employment Application for the City of Lake Mary for the position of Police Officer I. In this application she advised that the reason that she was leaving the Winter Park Police Department in which her hourly wage was $29.05 and holding the rank of Sergeant was : (18)

"Interested in working for Lake Mary Police Department"

So here we are to believe that Mrs. Szczepanski leaves a job with the Winter Park Police Department before she is hired by the Lake Mary Police Department.

On 07/07/2007, Lorri Kae Lilja submitted a second Employment Application for the City of Lake Mary for a sworn officers position. (19) Located on page #4 of this application under previous employer, Mrs. Lilja identified that she had been employed by the Winter Park Police Department from 10-29-1986 to 8-4-2006 at a salary of $60,000.00 per year and that she listed the reason for leaving as:

"Retired To Apply Environmental Degree."

It should be noted that Mrs. Lilja advised that she became employed at BCI Engineering Inc. on 10-16-2006 at $25,000.00 per year. Giving up a $60,000.00 job for a $25,000.00 job??

On September 11, 2007, four days after submitting this second application to the LMPD a Background Investigation Report was submitted by Detective Matt Schaefer.(20) Under the Employment Check category no mention was made of the Winter Park Police Department’s 46 page Internal Investigation 2006-II-20 which resulted in her resignation.(21) Records would reveal that Lorri Kae Lilja would be hired on 10-18-2007 by the Lake Mary Police Department.

As is the case with James J. Wallace, Mrs. Lorri Lilja needs to remember those documents which she signed under Oath. But then again as proven by her past behavior the truth is something for other people.

How many more of the officers of the Lake Mary Police Department are of the fine character standards as those of Bracknell, Prince, Wallace and now Lilja?

A pattern appears to have been revealed. From the firing of Steve A. Bracknell from the Winter Park Police Department to the resignations of the above identified officers while under investigation of the Winter Park Police Department, a patter has been exposed. The thing about patterns is that they repeat. Now begins the task of what other Police Departments have cleaned their departments of trash just to be hired by The Lake Mary Police Department.


******************** ADVERTISEMENT ********************

So if you are a dirty cop, who is presently under investigation by your department and you know that letter is on the way telling you that you are about to be fired, terminated, canned, let go , given the boot, handed the pink slip, do not fear. Do we have a Police Department for you. Submit your Application to the City of Lake Mary and do not worry about that little Oath thing. Because they don’t. And feel free to tell them whatever you want as to the reason that you “retired” from your last job. You can rest assured that the Background Investigator will not even do a simple FDLE check to verify what you write or even get you discipline file. And once you are hired feel free to sexually harass all the women you want not to mention lie all you want.

And given time you too will make the rank of Lieutenant and probably get the Internal Affairs/Professional Standards Commanders position.

This advertisement is not authorized or approved by the City Of Lake Mary Florida or the Lake Mary Police Department.

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For those Lake Mary Police Officers who came from another Agency other than the Winter Park Police Department do not worry. In time SeminoleWatch.com will dig into your past since we know that the FDLE and CJSTC will not.

JAMES JOSEPH WALLACE:

  1. Article: "Lieutentant David Allen Prince, Not Prince Charming"
  2. Article: "City of Lake Mary Florida Rewards Lt. David Prince with a Gun"
  3. July 16, 1999 Resignation letter from James J. Wallace
  4. June 17, 1999 Winter Park Police Dept. Internal Investigation Case No. 99-010
    4. a. June 4, 1999 WPPD Interview Officer Joe Wallace
  5. May 5, 2003 Maitland Police Background Investigation James J. Wallace
  6. February 11, 2002 Lake Mary Background Investigation James J. Wallace
  7. February 11, 2002 LMPD Background Invest. Page 2.
  8. June 17, 1999 WPPD Internal Investigation Page 5.
  9. July 7, 1999 Letter from WPPD Chief Douglas Ball
  10. January 17, 2002 Lake Mary PD Application Page 8, James J. Wallace
  11. January 17, 2002 Lake Mary PD, Application Page 15, James J. Wallace
  12. June 4, 2003 Maitland PD Application , James J. Wallace
  13. June 7, 2004 Lake Mary PD Application, James J. Wallace
  14. June 11, 2004 LMPB Background Inv. Report by Operations Commander Steve A. Bracknell
  15. June 11, 2004 LMPD memo from Sgt. Biles to Steve A. Bracknell

LORRI KAE SZCZEPANSKI (LILJA):

  1. July 26, 2006, Winter Park PD letter from Chief Douglas Ball
  2. FDLE/CJSTC File on Officer Lorri Kae Lilja
  3. August 01, 2006 1st Lake Mary PD Application, Lorri K. Szczepanski
  4. July 7, 2007 2nd Lake Mary PD Application, Lorri Kae Lilja
  5. September 11, 2007 LMPD Background Investigation on Lorri Kae Lilja by Det. Matt Schaefer
  6. July 22, 2006 Winter Park Police Dept. Internal Investigation 2006-II-20
    WPPD Internal Continued 2.
    WPPD Internal Continued 3.

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