US Attorneys subpoenaed 4 FMPD officers as part of drug, murder, public corruption case

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney
Published: Updated:
Fort Myers Police Department headquarters. (Credit: WINK News)
Fort Myers Police Department Headquarters. Credit: WINK News.

Four Fort Myers Police Department officers who were put on paid administrative leave in 2017 were subpoenaed by the Offices of the United States Attorneys in November 2018.

The subpoenas requested the officers appear to testify in front of a grand jury as targets of a drug, murder and public corruption case.

Sources close to the officers tell WINK News none of them actually appeared before the grand jury to testify.

The department placed Captain Melvin Perry, Sergeant Rick Notaro, Sergeant Michael Forbes and officer Jason Jackson on paid administrative leave following a needs assessment of the agency by the Freeh Group.

The Freeh Group’s findings were released in February, a day after Chief of Police Derrick Diggs placed the officers on leave. A section of the findings known as appendix A and B were provided heavily redacted.

For three years, the department has said the pages cannot be released in their entirety because they are part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

The department also continually refuses to comment about the officers on leave, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.

In February, a WINK News report revealed the investigation is potentially connected to a drug trafficking and murder case.

The U.S. attorneys office will not confirm the existence of any investigation into the officers or provide any comment.

Perry, Notaro and Forbes retired amid the misconduct investigation. Jackson remains on leave collecting full salary and benefits.

An attorney for Melvin Perry said the captain did not appear to testify in front of the grand jury in December 2018 at the advice of legal counsel.

“We could not allow him to testify about something we knew nothing about,” said Louis Baptiste, a Tallahassee-based attorney.

However, a day after an on-camera interview with WINK News, Baptiste claimed he did not actually have knowledge of a subpoena.

But sources close to the officers, including the former interim police chief confirmed to WINK News that all four officers received federal subpoenas.

Dennis Eads was at the helm of the police department immediately prior to the release of the Freeh report and the hiring of Chief Diggs.

He said he received complaints about Perry during that time from officers within the agency, but could not find any evidence that the captain had engaged in any wrongdoing.

In August 2016, Eads said the FBI asked to meet with him to discuss Perry but the meeting never happened. He said he never heard anything else about it.

Chief Diggs was sworn in shortly afterward. Eads said he made Diggs aware of complaints about Perry and Jackson from within the agency, but he felt that there was not any evidence of misconduct.

“I can’t say what Chief Diggs has,” Eads said. “If it’s maybe just those redacted pages that we can’t see what it says, maybe it was compelling enough for him to take the action.”

The Florida Police Benevolent Association filed a lawsuit against the City of Fort Myers to release the audit appendices in their entirety, but, so far, the city has not responded to the suit.

“There’s an old saying you can either put up or shut up … but it’s now time for the City of Fort Myers to put up,” Baptiste said.

Attorneys for the other officers did not comment on the subpoenas.

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