Former Sheriff Chris Blair makes a deal with prosecutors

Blair will never be able to run for sheriff in the Fifth Judicial District

chris blair, sheriff chris blair, blair makes deal, blair resigns,

Marion County — Former Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair withdrew his candidacy for re-election.

In a letter to Supervisor of Elections, Welsley Wilcox, Blair wrote, “Having duly qualified for election for the office of Sheriff of Marion County, in the Republican Primary and General Elections of 2016, I hereby immediately and irrevocably withdraw my candidacy for the office of Sheriff of Marion County.”

In addition to the letter Blair wrote to Wilcox, he wrote Gov. Rick Scott and stated that he was formally resigning as sheriff.

Dropping out of the race was part of a deal that Blair made with the State Attorney’s Office.

The deal, a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, states that Blair would drop out of the “race” for sheriff if the SAO would agree not to peruse charges against Blair. Additionally, Blair made a deal that would allow him to collect his pension from the state retirement system. Essentially, this deal means that all charges will be dropped and that, Blair will not have to serve any jail time.

On May 20, 2016, the State Attorney’s Office for the Fifth Judicial District indicted Sheriff Chris Blair for two counts of Perjury in an official proceeding and one count of Official Misconduct.

In a press release, Sheriff Emery Gainey wrote, “Today the former sheriff made the best decision for the citizens of Marion County and the employees of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office: to resign from the Office of the Sheriff and to withdraw from the upcoming sheriff’s election.”

Blair was also being investigation for the Kiosk program he created. A program which he swore no tax dollars were used.

“The investigation into the Kiosk program has revealed very significant and disturbing information about the procurement process of this product, including the use of public monies and receipt of payment by a former senior staff member from a vendor involved in this venture. I purposefully chose to remain silent when I ordered the removal of these kiosks from various businesses and governmental locations on July 15, to allow sufficient time for the investigation to be concluded. With the release of the findings today, it should be obvious why I took such immediate action on behalf of our business partners and this agency,” Sheriff Gainey said.

Blair said that he does not admit or deny the allegation, but that the agreement with the SAO was in his best interest.

“The agreement is made in my own best interest and enables me to dispose of the charges without risk of conviction and sentence.”

Blair will never be able to run for sheriff in the Fifth Judicial District. Also, he will not be able to have his arrest record expunged.

Read more about the Kiosk investigation, which includes exclusive information that was provided to Ocala Post.

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  • tomfromocala

    Blair said that he does not admit or deny the allegation, but that the agreement “was in his best interest.” ____ in other words, this POS is guilty. I am sure there are more crooked deputies in that agency too. I do not agree with the deal. She needs to have his ass in jail. Him and his crooked family.

    • Bill in Ocala

      If he was truly guilty and it was a slam dunk conviction. Why did he SAO cut a deal.
      I’ll tell you why. The same reason they used the grand jury and not simply bring him up on charges. Because it was a weak case that a judge might have tossed out the whole case. A grand jury is easily manipulated and can be more compelling. However the deal proves it was a weak case and Brad King didn’t want to look stupid. But he does anyways.

      • tomfromocala

        The deal appears to have been Blair’s idea, or his attorneys. He just avoided conviction, that’s all. Blair’s words….”The agreement is made in my own best interest and enables me to dispose of the charges without risk of conviction and sentence.”

      • Ms Betty

        Blair certainly doesn’t deserve to receive a pension either for his dirty work.

  • playball

    The supervisor of elections is Wesley Wilcox.

    • playball

      Thanks you for fixing it.

  • OK, this is an unexpected turn, but how do we, as Heathman supporters and as Blair supporters, make this right?

    At the end of the day, there was still enough evidence for the grand jury to arrest and indict Blair for deception in Dustin’s case. Yes, the charges were dropped, however it came at a high price. Blair was willing to pay such a high price so he wouldn’t have to go to trial. It’s highly suspicious of him to do this. He may not be guilty in the eyes of the law, but if he was so sure of his innocence he would have gone to trial. Dustin went to trial; he didn’t take a plea deal and he didn’t try to claim insanity. But his trial was based on an investigation that prosecutors knew was riddled with dishonesty. That’s why they amended the charges three times, the last of which was just four days before trial. They never had a case against Dustin; if they had, they wouldn’t have kept changing the charges. And with the charges, their entire story also changed.
    Meanwhile, Dustin’s story has never changed, and the fact that the charge that triggered all of this was dropped supports what he was saying when he told them that the charge was no good. He was trying to avoid confrontation, and he hadn’t done anything wrong. There’s nothing on record to violate Dustin’s probation. The bottom line is, nothing has been honestly or ethically proven against him in a fair trial. Whether you support Blair, or Dustin, or you’re neutral, we can’t set this precedent where people can be locked away based on faulty investigations. We don’t want society to lose faith in the justice system, or in law enforcement. Otherwise people will start thinking, ‘why should I cooperate, why should I surrender if I know I’m not going to get a fair trial?’ How can we trust the police, or the state, when police can beat people, plant evidence, and write up anything in their report, and the state backs it up? This promotes lawlessness!
    Dustin is no angel, but he’s worked hard for everything he had. No one since 1996, when he was 17, can say they’ve been a victim of Dustin. He doesn’t rob people, he doesn’t steal, he doesn’t do drugs or sell them, he doesn’t abuse vulnerable people. He believes in the Constitution and the Second Amendment, which he believes everyone has the duty to defend.
    Our boys fight tyranny thousands of miles away, while military tactics and military gear are used here in America to take away a man who, it’s been proven, hadn’t done anything wrong. An officer pled guilty to falsifying reports, engaging in cover-ups, and violating Dustin of his rights. There are other officers who are alleged to have done the same. Major Tommy Bibb, the lead investigator in Dustin’s case, was suspended and then resigned a few days later. Former sheriff Chris Blair was booked into his own county jail for ethics violations in Dustin’s case. He might not be guilty in the eyes of the law, but a grand jury found enough evidence to indict him. He forfeited a lucrative position as sheriff of Marion County to avoid trial. I don’t know the legality of that, but I do know that if it was one of us charged with three felonies, and the sate had enough for an indictment, we would either have the charges dropped, go to trial, or take a plea deal in exchange for leniency. We don’t get to use a political position to avoid trial. Regardless of what camp you’re in, right is right and wrong is wrong. How can we make this right?

    • Ms Betty

      You said, ” We don’t want society to lose faith in the justice system, or in law enforcement. Otherwise people will start thinking, ‘why should I cooperate, why should I surrender if I know I’m not going to get a fair trial?’ How can we trust the police, or the state, when police can beat people, plant evidence, and write up anything in their report, and the state backs it up? This promotes lawlessness!” You are 100% correct and all of the above just happened with Blair. We can’t trust the justice system or law enforcement and the state is backing the bad guys so who’s promoting lawlessness? The sword cuts both ways…

      • I’m with you. What I meant is that, our guy Dustin Heathman is doing life when it’s known that the entire investigation was riddled with dishonesty, yet Dustin was convicted on the words of these known liars. Meanwhile the former sheriff, whose lies were caught on camera, walks free because he traded away his position as sheriff to avoid going to trial. That just makes Blair look even MORE suspicious. This is the kind of corruption that Dustin is facing. This is the kind of corruption that Dustin stood against. Dustin should NOT be in prison right now.

        • YUP

          Yeah, Mr. Heathman is clearly an upstanding citizen too LMAO. That gang member, loser is a drain on society that has been arrested so many times he should have his own permanent bunk at the jail. Let him rot.

  • Michael David

    Once again, NO JUSTICE behind the blue line. Criminals, thieves and scum are free from the same type of prosecution citizens face. Losing his job is NOT justice…it’s a joke. Our states attorney is a loyal protector of scumbag cops.

    • HB

      The State’s Attorney is truly the protector of criminals with video evidence of Blair lying.
      Why is the State giving away our tax money to Criminals? Why don’t the state disband
      the Grand Jury for all they went through and recommended thrown out the window by
      deal makers in state’s attorneys office? Blue collar crime versus white collar…the
      winner will always be for white collar involving public officials. Dustin should now get
      a new trial with Blair as evidence on his behalf.

  • Ms Betty

    This is such a crock. Blair got special privileges a regular person wouldn’t have received PLUS he’s still allowed to collect his pension? Where’s the deal? Everything was in Blairs favor. No one would have voted for him so that wasn’t it. And what happened with his buddies Don Maine and the other one. The 3 of them are a disgrace to the uniform they wore. The citizens got screwed again.

    • LaTorre and Bibb. I don’t really know much about Maines and LaTorre as they weren’t involved in Dustin Heathman’s case, but Tommy Bibb was the lead investigator in Dustin’s case. He too, just like Blair and Hoppel and all the others, also lied and tried to cover things up. Bibb is just as bad as Blair. With that said, I seriously doubt that Maines and LaTorre could have been that close to Blair and NOT know of the corruption, either in Dustin’s case or in any of the other cases.

  • Karen M

    It’s too bad that the ‘kiosk’ to alert the public to criminals they may either ‘know’ or are familiar with. From what I hear it was even successful! When I first saw one, I said “What a great idea this HAS to benefit L.E.O.s and the citizens of Marion county”! but there always has to be some ‘greedy’ soul who wants to get ‘rich” over a great idea that is ‘intended to slow down the crime . As far as the ‘deal’ who’s idea was it to let Blair keep his retirement fund? Correct me if I’m wrong because I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think Ken Ergle got a deal like that!?, I still think he was one of the BEST, if not ‘THE BEST’ Sheriff Marion County ever had! , I admire him for ‘admitting his ‘crime’ and the fact that he felt he had let the citizens down,!
    Blair won’t even apologize or admit his ‘crime’ ! but he walks away with no jail time and keeps his retirement package? hmmmm Well I knew I was voting for ANYONE ‘OTHER’ than Blair to start with, but as we saw the level of corruption like our county has never known and the current administration leaving… I hope a new Sheriff will bring the taxpayers (residents) a promise of a NEW DAY ! Now after seeing the improvements made in the Sheriff’s Office already, for the officers (on the road) and (Corrections) I look forward to a ‘new climate’ at the Sheriff’s office and will add that interim Sheriff , seems to have made a LOT of improvements in the short time he has been ‘on the job’ I think anyone would be an improvement,over a Sheriff who ‘only ‘listened’ to one group of employees complaints and ignored the others! but. Sheriff Gainey seems to be ‘fair’ and open to all problems brought to his attention! I also think he seems to be well liked by all staff! not just a few ‘cronies’ He would make an excellent new ‘High Sheriff’ for Marion County maybe because he doesn’t have any family or friends watching his back constantly and is from another county! The staff at the jail, have always gotten the ‘leftover’ budget , but this seemed obvious to Sheriff Gainey, and he immediately improved their working conditions ! (wonder if he has considered better hours!? Jail staff work on 12 hour shifts, and never got paid extra for the ‘Swing Shift’ He might want to look at this area too! so if this ‘new guy’ can make the Staff much happier in their job so quickly, I think he has to have some other ‘tricks up his sleeve’ to use taxpayer money more wisely! BTW my other choice is Kerry Crawford a long time L.E O, now retired I believe. but when I make my choice on voting day, it will be for ‘change’ NOT for the same old’ same old’ !

  • harry

    wow, commit crime, get caught, get early ret and pension. did they use lube when giving it to the TAXPAYER.

  • Cliff Rock

    Couldn’t he be let to run for sheriff AFTER jail time? LOL what chance would he have to be elected after jail time? What a load of crap!