Broward News

Panning for Gold: I Didn't Let That Dirty Sheriff Touch Me

Considering we sent our own Sheriff to prison a few years ago, we Broward folks probably shouldn't snicker to loud about the scandal that's swallowed a law enforcement community in the Florida Panhandle. Then again...oh...what the hell? Okaloosa County, you've baked a dish we just can't resist.

Sheriff Charlie Morris was busted last February in an FBI sting for giving his employees generous bonuses in exchange for kickbacks. He was accused of taking that cash -- and his mistress -- on trips to Vegas. Apparently, it's more fun to gamble with taxpayers' money. Not just the kickback money, but presumably, the mistress' $83,000 salary -- she had a paid position with the sheriff, though no other Sheriffs employees can pinpoint exactly what, if anything, the mistress did.

But if she really was enjoying the largess, Sabra Thornton is quite the ingrate.

This week, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports Thornton filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations in which she claimed to be a victim of discrimination. In that document, Thornton claims that she wasn't romantically involved with Morris, who she casts as a lecherous, vengeful despot made bitter about her having rejected his advances.

"He fired me because he was in love with me and wanted to have a romantic relationship with me," the document states.

Oh, but Morris, who entered a guilty plea to corruption charges in May, wasn't so hard-hearted. Investigators learned that Thornton was paid even after she was fired. So, if I've got this right, Thornton is angry about losing a job that entailed little-to-no work, even though she was still getting paid to do no work?

Even in the Panhandle, I'm not sure that's a persuasive argument. Back to Thornton's relationship with Morris:
"He told me he had been in love with me for six years, and he was angry about my continuing relationship .... He admitted he fired me for those reasons, and that the termination was punishment for not breaking off the relationship so he could pursue one with me."
And maybe now is a good time to also mention that though Thornton was fired, she was rehired a couple months later, according to investigative documents cited by the Daily News.

Back to the article to find out exactly what the "discrimination" looked like:
Thornton said she made less money than her male peers, was given a Chevy Malibu to drive rather than an SUV and was left out of command staff meetings and outings.
OK, the less money argument only works if Thornton actually worked, like her male peers. Or if those male peers were paid more for their work-less jobs than Thornton.

Thornton was fired, of course, and is currently facing charges of grand them. The new sheriff is Edward Spooner. He seems to be much more trustworthy -- even if he does have a bad habit of letting his deputies serve arrest warrants at a gun range. Yup, that happened. Two deputies died in that one.

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Thomas Francis