Prosecutors filed new felony charges Tuesday against former Windermere police Chief Daniel Saylor alleging that he tried to bribe one of his officers to lie and destroy records in a child sex investigation of Saylor's friend.
The four charges — including tampering with evidence and bribery — stem from an ongoing criminal investigation that became public Jan. 12 when Saylor was arrested on corruptions charges.
Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn said he was disturbed by the mounting charges and criticized Town Manager Cecilia Bernier, who promoted Saylor and supervised him.
"She has ultimate responsibility," Bruhn said. "This [FLDE] investigative report is further evidence that the Windermere Police Department and Windermere police officers were allowed to operate without any accountability, without any oversight and without any management."
The new charges against Saylor are bribery of a public servant, official misconduct, solicitation to commit official misconduct and solicitation to tamper with evidence. Saylor was not rearrested.
Saylor's attorney, Mark NeJame, said he could not comment until he has received all evidence and court documents.
"We don't even know the full extent of the allegations," NeJame said.
The Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office charging document alleges that Saylor offered Windermere Officer Irvin Murr time off with pay, a transfer off the night shift and a promotion or letter of recommendation to lie to the FDLE and destroy investigative notes in the case of Saylor's friend Scott Bush a Windermere man accused of child rape.
Murr was working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to secretly tape conversations between Saylor and himself. Agents began investigating Saylor in July when they received allegations that he had shut down the Bush investigation.
Bush, 50, was arrested the same day as Saylor and faces sexual-battery and lewd or lascivious molestation charges that could land him in prison for life. Bush and Saylor are out of jail on bail.
Because of the scandal, new police Chief McCoy last week announced that people who suspect their cases were mishandled under Saylor's regime can ask for a review. McCoy, a former Orlando police chief, was hired last month to replace an interim chief who took over when Saylor was arrested.
Messages left for Bernier Tuesday were not returned. She has repeatedly refused to comment, other than through a public-relations agency the Town Council hired to handle intense media interest in the case. The agency reached the end of its contract and no longer works for the town.
Bernier's performance is on the agenda at Tuesday's Town Council meeting. So is the FDLE investigation.
After Saylor's arrest, the Council voted to express confidence in Bernier at the same meeting that she admitted losing three of four performance reviews she said she did on Saylor. She said she knew nothing of the mismanagement in the Police Department.
Bernier said she was aware that Saylor had resigned as a Melbourne police officer in 1996 after an Orlando police officer saw him pick up a prostitute in the Parramore neighborhood. He was not arrested in that case. She also was aware that Saylor hired several Windermere officers who had resigned from other agencies in the wake of investigations into their conduct.
The lone performance review in Saylor's file, dated Oct. 3, 2008, indicates Bernier was "very concerned" that Saylor had been out of touch with his officers, failed to file financial reports and didn't respond quickly to problems. The review noted that the department "seems to be getting back on track."
The FDLE continues to look at whether:
- Saylor accepted a $1,000 bribe to give a friend of a Windermere auxiliary police officer a job. McCoy fired the officer, Raul Carvajal, on Feb. 16.
- Windermere police mishandled a vehicle burglary in which the victim alleged that Bush's son was involved.
- Saylor covered up crimes to make Windermere appear safer than it is.
Saylor joined the force in 1997 and was chief for eight years. He was fired Jan. 26. The original charges against him are official misconduct and giving unlawful compensation for official behavior, both in connection with the Bush investigation.
Source: Orlando Sentinel