Walton County, Fla. - A man once charged with 134 felonies that were later dropped is suing the Walton County Sheriff's Office for false arrest and malicious prosecution.
Double AA Auto Salvage owner Mark Runge was arrested in July of 2016 and charged by the Walton County Sheriff's Office for failing to report 134 vehicles to 'Leads Online.' Investigators said he was required to report the vehicles that came into the privately run database. A news release also suggested that investigators were concerned about stolen vehicles.
However, Runge said he was not required to report to that database and was already reporting all of his vehicles correctly. He also noted that the sheriff's office quickly stopped talking about stolen vehicles and instead began talking about the 134 felonies as a "compliance issue."
In an interview Monday Runge said he was, "falsely arrested, painted as a criminal, painted as a lawless individual, and there was no fact to any of it. ... It's just not right."
The lawsuit also states that Sheriff Michael Adkinson repeatedly tried to get him to confess to something, anything, in connection with the case. When that didn't work, Adkinson then tried to get a promise out of Runge that he would not sue if the charges were dropped.
Runge refused, he said.
"It's fairly common to have lawsuits filed against the Sheriff's Office by those unhappy with our services," Adkinson wrote in a statement to News 13. "In this particular case, the probable cause arrest was supported by a Circuit Court Judge and the State Attorney's Office following review. It is certainly not uncommon for a case to be dismissed once a resolution is reached, which is what occurred in this instance with Mark Runge agreeing to the very conditions we requested all along. The only thing making this case unique is the actions of Mark Runge to advertise this matter to try to help his lawsuit."
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