FDLE Clears Out Hampton Records
HAMPTON, Fla. -- Another body blow for the staggering city of Hampton. State and County investigators raided City Hall on Friday as part of the criminal investigation spurred by a troubling audit.
The Bradford County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the State Attorney's Office all went into Hampton's City Hall to remove all records that could lead to criminal activity. The records were secured and placed under evidence where they will later be reviewed.
"This city means a lot to me," said Hampton resident Jim Mitzel.
Mitzel has been a Hampton resident for the past 40 years. He says his favorite memories include going to school there, becoming a city council member, and then serving as mayor to the town of 477 residents.
"To me, it's an honor to be part of the city of Hampton, even with all that's going on lately," Mitzel said.
And lately, city leaders haven't been all that honest. Earlier this year a state audit found widespread misuse of public funds.
"There was a couple bad apple that were abusing the system," said Brad Smith, Public Information Officer for Bradford County Sheriff's Office.
The audit found more than $8,000 in overpayments to the former city clerk, hundreds of thousands of dollars in untracked speeding ticket revenue, and more than $11,000 in uncollected water revenue, among other things.
"This investigation, the criminal part of the investigation, is gonna figure out whether or not theres actual charges that can be leveled against somebody, and we want to ensure the citizens of Hampton that they're being watched after," said Smith.
Hampton was given a month to come up with a significant plan and save the city. But if city leaders don't do so, then Hampton would be run by Bradford County.
"I'm hoping that we can get passed this and still be a city," said Mitzel.
State lawmakers recommended merging the city into an unincorporated portion of Bradford County earlier this month after a scathing audit found widespread misuse of funds.
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