FBI, BCSO question Springfield leaders

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SPRINGFIELD, Fla. (WMBB) — Springfield Mayor Ralph Hammond was in a meeting at city hall Tuesday when he was interrupted by the officer assigned to city hall.

The “Police officer come and told me I had a visitor,” Hammond said. “I said, ‘I’m busy’ and she said, ‘no you need to see this visitor.'”

The guests were investigators from the FBI and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. A federal investigation that began in Lynn Haven has already resulted in five guilty pleas in connection to corruption after Hurricane Michael. Lynn Haven’s former City Manager Mike White and former Leisure Services Director David Horton are among those who have plead guilty in the case.

Currently, former Bay County Commissioner Keith Baker, former Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson and former city attorney Adam Albritton have been charged as a result of the investigation.

Meanwhile, the federal authorities have sent subpoenas to Panama City Beach and Bay District Schools.

Hammond said the investigators were responding to a tip. He said they asked him about his truck, the city’s trash contract, and a city program that demolishes abandoned or damaged property.

Hammond said the city paid him about $22,800 to replace his truck when it was destroyed at City Hall during Hurricane Michael. However, when his insurance paid him for the loss Hammond reimbursed the city, he said.

Also, Hammond oversees the demolition program.

“There’s no funds transferred in the city,” Hammond said. “I use the city excavator, maybe five to 10 gallons of fuel at the most and that’s all it costs the citizens for us to do the program.”

Hammond said the city is following the proper procedure when it comes to purchases, contracts, including it’s exclusive trash contract with Mr. Trash and FEMA funds.

The City of Springfield is looking good. We are good. We’re going to continue that way,” Hammond said. “Everybody is going to have a slip-up. That’s life. But it wouldn’t be an intentional slip-up
as far as FBI goes I don’t think we’ve got any problems.”

The mayor added that investigators did not serve the city with a subpoena. They did take some meeting minutes.

“I don’t think there’s a situation here,” Hammond said. “Like I say, I have always been upright and so has the whole staff. We don’t do anything shortcut, nobody is on the payroll of anybody.”

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