Clay Officers Cleared in Sting; but Internal Affairs Is Reviewing Their Actions in Prostitution Sting

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Byline: BRAD SCHMIDT

Two Clay County undercover detectives caught last week in a Jacksonville prostitution sting have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing, but their actions are now being scrutinized for blatant Sheriff's Office policy violations.

Daniel Mahla and David Vaughan have been on paid administrative leave since the Sept. 16 incident, which occurred in Duval County just north of the Clay County line. Assistant State Attorney Steve Segal determined Wednesday the detectives did solicit prostitution, yet their actions were not criminal because they were working.

"No evidence has been discovered which suggests the detectives were attempting to do anything other than their job, albeit inappropriately, when they unexpectedly made contact with a JSO [Jacksonville Sheriff's Office] detective posing as a prostitute," Segal wrote in a statement closing the state's investigation.

Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said internal affairs investigators are reviewing the detectives' actions for non-criminal violations.

"My issue now is what violations were there, if any, of departmental procedures and policies," Beseler said.

According to the state, the detectives' actions were egregious.

"Both detectives violated numerous general orders or internal operating procedures within the CCSO [Clay County Sheriff's Office]," Segal wrote.

According to the state, the detectives have been involved in prostitution investigations along the county line. Sheriff's Office internal documents obtained by the state show that Mahla received tips from three Clay County residents Sept. …