Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PUBLIC SAFETY; Sheriff's Office Employee Fired; Another Suspended

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PUBLIC SAFETY; Sheriff's Office Employee Fired; Another Suspended

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, County Line staff writer

A civilian employee of the Clay County Sheriff's Office was fired Monday from his job with the Police Athletic League for inappropriate conduct and a sergeant at the county jail was arrested on a battery charge after investigators said he had hit a handcuffed federal immigration detainee.

Antonio Coleman, who joined the PAL staff in 1990, was dismissed after an internal investigation revealed the 39-year-old program assistant had "inappropriately propositioned a 21-year-old woman at the [PAL] gymnasium in Green Cove Springs," said Mary Justino, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

Sgt. Joe Bridges, a corrections officer in Clay County for nine years, was arrested Monday following a criminal investigation by the Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney's Office into an incident at the jail last month.

Bridges, 40, is accused of striking an Immigration and Naturalization Service detainee in retaliation for an assault on a corrections deputy under the sergeant's supervision. He has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

In a prepared statement, Sheriff Scott Lancaster noted that his department has 491 employees and that "the actions of [Coleman and Bridges] are regrettable and inexcusable."

"The many remaining men and women of our agency, however, continue striving to uphold our agency core values of integrity, caring, fairness and team work," Lancaster said.

Other incidents reported or under investigation by the Sheriff's Office this week include:

-- Timothy John Oberlander, a suspect in sex crimes in Nassau and Clay counties as well as a foiled kidnapping of a young girl in western Clay last year, was incarcerated in the Clay County jail Tuesday on a charge of capital sexual battery of a child under 12. …

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