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Fort Myers police union says four of its officers are no longer under federal investigation

Department says it has not been officially notified by U.S. Attorney's Office
Posted at 11:16 PM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 23:16:58-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The head of the Fort Myers police union said 4 officers who had been under the scrutiny of a federal grand jury have been told they are no longer under federal investigation.

Matt Sellers, President of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Police Benevolent Association, said the U.S. Attorney based in Tampa sent their legal counsel the notification in the form of a letter.

"He advised each individual officer's attorney that they would not be pursuing federal charges against them," said Sellers.

The officers were placed on administrative leave by the department in 2017 after a letter from the U.S. Attorney's office told them: "You are now the target of a federal grand jury investigation for conspiracy to traffic in controlled substances, murder, and public corruption."

The officers' actions came under scrutiny by the Justice Department after a sweeping outside investigation conducted by an investigative firm laid out 71 pages of dysfunction in the department.

The outside investigative firm was headed by a former director of the FBI, Louis Freeh, and it came to be known as the "Freeh Report."

The Police Chief at the time, Doug Baker, was forced to step down.

And the newly named Chief, Derrick Diggs, made it clear from the start he would not tolerate corruption - even welcoming scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Corruption" is one of the things that was mentioned in the initial letter from the feds to the four officers.

Sellers said he thought it was significant that the officers have not been charged with corruption or any other crime.

"The men and women of the Fort Myers Police Department should feel good today," said Sellers.

"These officers were cleared of any wrongdoing."

But Sellers, when asked to clarify by WFTX, also acknowledged the lack of federal charges does not mean the officers did nothing wrong.

"That is a true statement," said Sellers.

But he was quick to add, "Things will come out that will show these officers didn't do anything wrong."

Sellers said three of the officers have retired since 2017.

The fourth, Jason Jackson, was still on administrative leave as of Friday night.

The apparent end of the federal focus on the officers does not mean the Police Department will necessarily follow suit.

Sellers says he's been in touch with the Police Department and that, "They're working on some kind of resolution."

When asked if he agreed the Freeh Report laid out legitimate problems with the police force, Sellers acknowledged as much.

But he laid the blame at the top levels of the department rather than rank and file officers.

"I don't argue with some of the things in that report," said Sellers. "Things like favoritism and poor leadership."