On June 4, agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) arrested Nick Finch, sheriff of Liberty County, Florida. About 11 p.m. the previous Friday night, May 31, four agents of the FDLE served a search warrant on employees of the Liberty County, Florida jail, seized arrest and booking documents, and issued subpoenas to the employees.
Sheriff Finch, a veteran of the U.S. armed forces, was booked into his own county jail and later released on his own recognizance.
After Sheriff Finch was released, Governor Rick Scott suspended Sheriff Finch and replaced him with an agent of the FDLE, the very agency that is investigating the case against the sheriff.
According to the affidavit for arrest, Sheriff Finch is charged with one count of official misconduct as set forth in Florida State Statutes, Title 46, Chapter 838.022. That section defines the crime of official misconduct — a third degree felony — as follows:
(1) It is unlawful for a public servant, with corrupt intent to obtain a benefit for any person or to cause harm to another, to:
(a) Falsify, or cause another person to falsify, any official record or official document;
(b) Conceal, cover up, destroy, mutilate, or alter any official record or official document or cause another person to perform such an act; or
(c) Obstruct, delay, or prevent the communication of information relating to the commission of a felony that directly involves or affects the public agency or public entity served by the public servant.
This reporter is also a constitutional attorney and recognizes not only the inadequacy of the arresting affidavit, but also that the key phrase in the crime of official misconduct is “with corrupt intent.”