The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by James McLynas, a candidate for sheriff in Pinellas County, Florida. In the post, which was shared via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page, McLynas discusses a lawsuit he has filed which accuses current Sheriff Robert Gualtieri, whom he is running against in the upcoming election, of hiding incriminating information contained within public records in violation of the Florida Open Records Laws.
The post was originally published at James McLynas’ personal campaign website under the title, “Pinellas County Sheriff Robert Gualtieri Sued for Hiding Incriminating Records From Opposing Candidate.”
10-20-2016 – Pinellas County Florida:
On October 20, 2016, Pinellas County Sheriff Candidate James McLynas filed a lawsuit against current Sheriff Robert Gualtieri and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) for intentionally refusing to provide public records to McLynas in violation of Florida Open Records Laws and the Florida Constitution.
The suit enumerates several allegations and was filed by prominent attorney Jerry Theophilopoulo (also known as Jerry “T”). Those factual allegations include:
- That the PCSO and Sheriff Gualtieri targeted McLynas for retribution after McLynas filed multiple legitimate complaints against PCSO deputies.
- That Sheriff Gualtieri and the PCSO also had McLynas falsely arrested on multiple bogus charges to silence McLynas shortly after McLynas threatened to run for Sheriff in 2013 to expose Gualtieri’s corruption.
- That in order to hide the specific records that evidenced Gualtieri’s personal involvement in the false arrest of McLynas, Sheriff Gualtieri and the PCSO implemented new and unique public records policies ONLY for McLynas to prevent him from obtaining those records he requested that incriminate Gualtieri.
- That the PCSO literally posted a “WANTED” type poster with McLynas’ confidential driver’s license records (a crime) barring McLynas (and only McLynas) from being able to access the PCSO record’s department in clear violation of Florida Statute Title X, Chapter 119 and the Florida Constitution.
- That PCSO and their lawyers lied to McLynas in writing that “no records existed” when McLynas asked for specific records regarding PCSO’s illegal Stingray cellphone surveillance used on McLynas, when the records did in fact exist and were created by PCSO during the illegal Stingray surveillance.
- That Sheriff Gualtieri and the PCSO would try and charge McLynas a “transparency tax” by lumping multiple separate records requests together and then intentionally overcharging McLynas sometimes thousands of dollars and not allowing McLynas to see ANY of the records he individually requested unless he paid for ALL of them.
- That PCSO also made up huge bills for fees for multiple records requests without providing McLynas with the “one free hour” of records processing time per request that everyone else is provided.
- That under the direction of Gualtieri, many of McLynas’ records requests were literally ignored and not properly responded to as is required under Title X, Chapter 119 records laws. These records have still not been provided sometimes years later.
The suit also alleges that Gualtieri and the PCSO refused to provide these records to prevent McLynas from using the damaging documents in the upcoming Sheriff’s election where McLynas and Gaultieri are the only two candidates.
Included with the lawsuit are over 50 pages of exhibits and documents proving the allegations, including numerous emails from the Sheriff’s department literally saying and doing the things they are accused of right in the emails and exhibits.
Under Title X, Chapter 119, Sheriff Gualtieri can also be charged with criminal penalties, suspended and removed or impeached if it is determined that he knowingly violated these laws while withholding the public records from Candidate McLynas. There is also a $500 per occurrence fine, which would add up to well over $100,000 in this case.
However, there are larger issues here that should concern ALL citizens of Pinellas County and even the State of Florida:
- Did a Sheriff retaliate against an innocent man as retaliation for reporting deputy misconduct?
- Did Sheriff Gualtieri then have McLynas falsely arrested after McLynas pushed back threatening to run for Sheriff to expose Gualtieri?
- Is this an example of an incumbent Sheriff having his opposing candidate falsely arrested to destroy the political opposition?
It seems pretty clear that Sheriff Gualtieri went through some extraordinary lengths to prevent McLynas from seeing these records that McLynas says will prove Gualtieri’s personal involvement in the vendetta and political sabotage of McLynas.
Why would Sheriff Gualtieri take such a personal interest in a mere records request, or enact so many new policies directed specifically at McLynas if the records showed nothing at all? The answer to that is; he wouldn’t have. Gualtieri would not have tried so hard to conceal those records and violate Florida law to hide them if they were harmless. Those records still have not been produced by Gualtieri.
Even if only half of what McLynas and his lawyer have alleged in the lawsuit is true, Gualtieri does not need to remain Sheriff of Pinellas County and instead should be sitting in the same jail cell he tried to put McLynas in for running against him.
COPY OF EXHIBITS A-L: https://www.scribd.com/document/328333331/Pcso-Exhibits-a-l
COPY OF EXHIBITS M-W: https://www.scribd.com/document/328333484/Pcso-Exhibits-M-W
– James McLynas