A high-ranking police official at the Fort Myers Police Department who unexpectedly retired last week amid scandal is speaking to WINK News.
Former Major William Newhouse was accused of telling a subordinate not to disclose to city leaders the cost overruns of a new police headquarters.
In his attorney’s office Friday morning, Newhouse said he’s not going to hide.
“It shocked me,” Newhouse said. “It completely hit me from left field.”
Newhouse was accused by former FMPD Inspector General Donald Oswald of ordering a subordinate to keep the cost hidden of turning the former News-Press site into a new police department was misinterpreted.
Oswald resigned on Oct. 29 after he said the police department’s internal affairs investigation on his accusation was a sham because it was conducted by one of Newhouse’s subordinates.
Newhouse said the investigation was conducted by a subordinate because the law doesn’t allow anyone from outside the department to do one if it could lead to disciplinary action.
Newhouse said he believes his conversation with a lieutenant was misinterpreted by Oswald. Newhouse said he was telling his lieutenant not to spread rumors.
“No one else in that room misinterpreted that comment,” Newhouse said. “If he thought what I said was wrong. He had a duty to say so then at that meeting. He should have said ‘no, explain what you mean.’ But he didn’t do that.”
Oswald filed the complaint two weeks after the meeting.
Newhouse said when he first learned of Oswald’s complaint he went straight to Fort Myers police Chief Derrick Diggs.
“I did say to the chief, you know, if this causes you embarrassment and you’d like me to leave it, I’d be happy to leave. But he said, absolutely not, you haven’t done anything wrong. You stay,” Newhouse said.
Newhouse said there was no reason for him to stay after Oswald filed the allegations against him.
“I could have retired … I could have left, had not gone through the internal affairs investigation,” Newhouse said. “I stayed and allowed that investigation to go through. Because I knew that I had done nothing wrong.”
Newhouse said it’s hard for him to speculate on why Oswald filed his complaint.
“Maybe he believed in his head it was true,” Newhouse said. “I’m not sure. I just think he got it completely wrong.”
Newhouse said he will cooperate with any independent investigation.