Okaloosa to start internal probe of TDC scandal (DOCUMENTS)

tdc file NWFDN
FILE PHOTO | Northwest Florida Daily News
Published: Monday, February 4, 2013 at 11:10 AM.

FORT WALTON BEACH — The Okaloosa County Commission has received a green light from Sheriff Larry Ashley and the state attorney to launch its own investigation of the Tourist Development Council fraud scandal.

Ashley sent a letter to County Administrator Jim Curry on Feb. 1 confirming that he and the state attorney’s office have no objections to the county moving ahead with its internal probe.

Read the letter from Ashley giving the OK to begin an internal investigation.

Northwest Florida lawmakers blasted commissioners last week for having not fired county employees who approved the numerous questionable expenditures during the tenure of former TDC Director Mark Bellinger.

But county officials say they postponed an internal investigation in early May 2012 at the request of Ashley and State Attorney Bill Eddins.

Curry said that in the days following Bellinger’s suicide on May 4, 2012, the county had “ramped up” an investigation and brought in outside counsel to interview employees and contractors.

But Curry received a letter from Ashley and Eddins on May 9, 2012, requesting that the county hold off on any “independent audit or independent examination of witnesses” during their criminal investigation.

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