LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Commission on Ethics is ordering a public hearing as to whether Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno violated a pair of statutes. FOX 4 received a copy of the documents from the Ethics Commission reporting probable cause, he violated Section 112.3148(4) and 112.3148(8). The first violation cited in the ethics report, is on the acceptance of a gift exceeding a value of $100 dollars from a vendor. The latter is failing to disclose the receipt of said gift.
It stems from a trip Marceno, along with six members of LCSO, took in January of 2020 to Tallahassee. The occasion was a retirement ceremony for a Florida Highway Patrol chief.
After facing initial criticism on spending taxpayer money, Marceno stated on Facebook in May of 2020, "If his retirement ceremony was held tomorrow, I would once again travel to Tallahassee to demonstrate our respect and appreciation for Chief Barrs."
Michael Dreikorn, a former candidate for Lee County Commissioner, filed the original complaint. He alleged the sheriff accepted a gift of round trip travel between Tallahassee and Fort Myers in a private plane, and that the owner of the airplane appears to be a vendor of the sheriff's office.
In response, the Lee County Sheriff's Office released this statement. "Based on legal advice, our position is there was no vendor, and no gift. We are CONFIDENT the Commission will confirm our position after a full and fair review. We are also gratified, but not surprised, that the Commission summarily EXONERATED Sheriff Marceno on the other obviously POLITICALLY MOTIVATED, and FALSE accusations. Sheriff Marceno is PROUD to have traveled to Tallahassee to recognize and honor the career of distinguished Florida Highway Patrol Chief Derek Barrs. He is a true legend who dedicated his life to public service."
The Ethics Commission cleared Marceno of three other claims, including using position that did not serve the public, soliciting a vendor, and misuse of purchasing card.