An ethics complaint was filed against Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno last week, we learned Thursday after obtaining the documentation.
The complaint accuses Marceno of excessive spending of taxpayer dollars. And it claims he falsified certified law enforcement officer training records.
Michael Dreikorn filed the complaint. He is currently running for a seat on Lee County Board of County Commissioners.
Dreikorn says he’s not calling for Sheriff Marceno’s job but has a problem with the amount of money Lee County Sheriff’s Office spent on a trip earlier this year and how the trip was categorized.
In January, Marceno, along with six deputies, attended a retirement ceremony in Tallahassee for a chief with Florida Highway Patrol.
“If this was an IRS audit, the IRS would reject that kind of expenditure associated with training,” Drekorn said. “They would say, ‘Go back. Put it in the appropriate category, so that now we can decide whether or not it’s a qualified expenditure’. And that’s what I’m asking for.”
Marceno posted on Facebook last month. He said it is standard practice for these kinds of trips to be coordinated through the training department.
“Every one of those employees had to sign a certification that the content of the form was true and accurate,” Dreikorn said. “And making a certification that this was training was not true, nor accurate.”
The retirement ceremony lasted two hours, but expense reports show the trip cost taxpayers more than $5,000.
Dreikorn worries the trip took away funds needed for what would be considered formal training.
“Sending seven employees for a two-hour cake party to Tallahassee and charging 16 hours labor each, two vehicles up and an airplane, that’s a bit excessive,” Dreikorn said.
We did reach out to LCSO to see if anyone would comment on this ethics complaint. We did not receive a comment in time for air or online publication and have still not heard back.
Although Lee County commissioners approve the budget for the sheriff’s office, they do not have access to line items from their spending.
“It can’t just be a bucket. It can’t just be,” Dreikorn said. “If there’s just a bucket, there’s no accountability.”