Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Former Everglades City Mayor Arrested

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office arrested Sammy Hamilton, 84, on July 16, 2018, for one count of grand theft and 16 counts of official misconduct.

Sammy Hamilton is a former mayor of Everglades City. He was elected mayor in November 1995 and served until his resignation from office in September 2017.

Reports indicate that during his tenure as mayor, Sammy Hamilton had exercised autonomous control of Everglades City financial accounts. Hamilton has been the sole signature on Everglades City’s checks for the past several years, despite the mandates of the city charter that required dual signatures of both the mayor and the city clerk.

FDLE states that the investigation revealed that Hamilton had used his position to steal nearly $48 thousand in taxpayer dollars to pay for boat parts, construction materials and equipment and development fees.

It is also alleged that Hamilton authorized and issued 16 fraudulent checks from Everglades City in the misrepresentation of official business.

The alleged acts took place between August 2013 and September 2017, with the majority of the counts occurring in 2015 and 2016.

The FDLE report states that a special agent met with attorney Chris Lombardo of the law firm Woodward, Pires and Lombardo, P.A., who had been hired three months prior to act as legal counsel for Everglades City. The law firm had noticed “several suspicious financial transactions,” wherein Sammy Hamilton’s personal expenses were paid by city funds. No sales tax was collected on any of the purchases, which is consistent with a governmental purchase. None of the purchases had been brought to council for approval, and there was no evidence of reimbursement to the city by Hamilton.

The law firm also alleged that a condominium construction project owned by Hamilton had not paid any impact fees and did not appear to have been properly permitted.

Two criminal complaints were filed with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began investigating in September 2017.

Hamilton was arrested at his residence and was booked into the Collier County Jail. He was released after posting bail of $90,000.

Hamilton will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 20th Judicial Circuit. His first court appearance in Collier County Court will be his arraignment, which is set for August 13, 2018 at 8:15 AM.

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