Letter to the Editor: MCSO caused me to lose my career, insurance, and livelihood.

mcso, corruption, ocala news, ocala post

My name is Michael Sands and I’m an eight-year Marine Corps veteran, which includes a tour in Kuwait, as well as a veteran of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office since 2003. The following events occurred, which caused me to lose my career, insurance, and livelihood.

On March 29, 2015, Lt. Brian Dotten sent me to the doctor to be evaluated for tremors that had become visible and worrisome. I was seen by Express Care in Belleview, Florida, and referred to neurologist Dr. J. Rubin of Ocala, FL. Dr. Rubin referred me to Shands in Gainesville, but later referred me to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. After blood samples were taken at the Mayo Clinic, I was advised to check into the nearest emergency room.

I was admitted to Munroe Regional Medical Center, where they discovered nearly 200 polyps and at least 2 tumors in my colon. I was then referred back to the Mayo Clinic for possible surgery, all the while using my vacation, comp time, and sick time.

On August 19, 2015, I returned to work for one day, before being admitted to the Mayo Clinic for surgery that occurred on September 18, 2015, at which time I received a diagnosis of Stage 3 Colon Cancer.

I experienced numerous complications associated with my illness, which included renal failure, staph infection, and even died several times. Once chemotherapy started, administered by Dr. Maury Berger, I experienced further complications with my internal organs.

After exhausting all leave time and receiving donations of time, on March 29, 2016, at the urging of Major Jerry Craig, I filed for long-term disability. I received assistance from David Palmer, Director of Human Resources, in filing for long-term disability, who on April 1,2016, then drafted and sent me a letter allowing me to remain an employee of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office until March 31, 2017.

June 27, 2016, I returned to work for discretionary firearms training, which consisted of classroom instruction on the Taser, pistol, and shotgun, followed by firing weapons on the range in Lowell, Florida. All was completed while wearing a colostomy bag.

On February 13, 2017, I received a letter from my surgeon, Dr. Dorin Colibaseanu, giving me full clearance to return to work, which I delivered to the Sheriff’s Office. In the letter, he stated that due to the damage caused by chemotherapy, my medical care had been transferred to Dr. Liu Yang of the Mayo Clinic Liver Transplant Team. I contacted the Mayo Clinic for clearance to return to work. I then visited the Sheriff’s Office and spoke with Sheriff Billy Woods, during which politics and the fact that I did not support him during the election was mentioned. On the same day, I was assured by Lt. Tom Calhoun that I would have a position in Evidence handling seized firearms.

I was then sent to Jet Medical (a facility specifically utilized by MCSO), where I was physically evaluated for duty by Dr. Samer Choksi. I performed every task without difficulty and requested more strenuous activity. On March 14, 2017, I received clearance to return to full duty by my personal physician, P.A. Tyler Lindsey of Ocala Family Medical Center. Also on March 14, 2017, Chief Deputy Robert Douglas and Captain Louis Pulford arrived at my home, and in my family’s presence, asked for my badge, identification, and firearms. When Chief Deputy Douglas and Captain Pulford arrived at my home, my girlfriend answered the door, after which time both entered without request or consent while I was sleeping. I awoke  to both standing in my my living room,while I was half awake. After which Chief Douglas followed me through my home and inspected my personal gun cabinet and even followed me to my bedroom to obtain uniforms and a firearm.

On March 15, 2017, I received clearance from the Mayo Clinic Liver Disease and Transplant Team and Dr. Liu Yang, to return to work immediately, with no restrictions mentioned.

I was then terminated from the Sheriff’s Office and received a letter dated March 15, 2017, stating I was terminated for being on medical leave for a year, which is obviously false considering I attended work for at least one day in 2015 and one day in 2016. I then obtained a letter drafted by Dr. Choksi dated March 17, 2017, stating he would not be able to release me for full duty by March 31, 2017, with no explanation.

It should be noted that during my appointment with Dr. Choksi, he had no knowledge of my medical history and believed that I had been previously diagnosed with Leukemia.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office ended my law enforcement career, a career in which I had hoped to retire. I am a disabled veteran, with a 30 percent disability rating, covered under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

I was never notified of my right to appeal the termination, which I was entitled to, and was intimidated by the arrival of the chief deputy and a captain, giving me the assumption that I had no recourse in regards of the Career Services Act.

I feel the public has the right to know.

Michael Sands
Ocala

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  • Citrusdeputytilltheend

    Does this really surprise anyone? I left MCSO and went to a different agency directly because of issues like this. Billy Woods is a political nightmare. By the way, Woods is the farthest thing from transparent and he will go out of his way to hide bad deeds of MCSO from the mainstream media, count on it.

    • tomfromocala

      You hit it on the head.

  • tomfromocala

    Well, well well. Maybe now Marion County will get the picture. So many fell for Woods’ garbage. Nothing more than political sewage. As a vet myself, this is a FU++ING outrage. There needs to be a formal investigation. MCSO is used to investigations should be nothing new for them. Tell the girl they hired in house from TV 20 to put that on the FB page.

  • DeputyDavis

    I too, work at a different agency. But I do live in Ocala. MCSO would be the last agency I would ever work for. Been a deputy for 16 years and have to say my personal opinion MCSO needs an out of town sheriff to come in fire everyone and start from scratch. Not so much deputies but the internal people who are over paid. I am a republican and I did not vote for Woods because he is a bullshit artist. Dotten is a pos too.His reports should be scrutinized. He talks a lot of BS about OPD officers and how incompetent they are too. When all of the Dollar Generals were being robbed he said OPD officers were lazy and I quote, “Did not do shit to help solve the cases.” He would deny it all day long but he said it.

    • Ms Betty

      I didn’t vote for Woods either and I agree with you about firing everyone and starting from scratch. I think OPD ought to be included in that as well and lets not forget Ocala’s Mayor. They’re all corrupt and the citizens of Marion County are at their mercy which is a shame.

  • chevyman1969

    Lets see how long it takes for the excuses to start coming from MCSO on this. I believe in guns, freedom, and the American way, but I do not have any faith in MCSO. I also think that if they did hire a girl from TV 20 to run media from inside MCSO that it is without a doubt an abuse of my tax dollars and a conflict of interest. Billy Woods is a beady eyed political show pony. I am a veteran and I approve this message.

  • Jeff Rice

    Did you consult an attorney?
    If not…Why not?

  • Anonymous

    I was forced to resign from MCSO after being hospitalized. Totally out of my control. I returned to work and my first day back, right after briefing, captain told me I was resigning and there was nothing I could do about it. I reached out to the Major at the time who refused to acknowledge me. Sorry you’re going through this.

  • Dave

    Really you worked two days in two years… I appreciate your sacrifice but the tax payers of Marion county do not deserve to keep you on the payroll.

    • bluemoono70701@yahoo.com

      On the books, not the payroll. Jackass

      • Christina-Marshall Dillon Runk

        I’m not shocked at all. The so called higher ups (only in pay and Benefits mind you) could care less about the hard working cops and firefighters in this county. Been down the road of crap with them ourselves….Dont get sick….hurt….in anyway…EVER!!!! They could care less.

    • Jason Williams

      Really, how dare you even comment something like that. The man survived stage 3 colon cancer and still wants to protect your county, what do you do for the county?

    • J0926

      Its MCSO policy that they work 1 day a year to continue employment regardless of illness or was a few years ago. Not to mention there are deputies collecting money on medical disability that are far from disabled and have not put in near the time Deputy Sands did. He does deserve to be on payroll. He wants to come back to work; as he satated, while he was gone he excepted his vacation, sick leave and time off he earned and hours others gave him so no worries folks he didnt ask for the greedy people of Marion county to give him anything for his years of service and the many cases he worked for you; just your support in him getting his job back.

    • J0926

      He is cleared to come back to work… So he deserves to he has more than earned it. But your right, the ungrateful taxpayers dont deserve him to work for them, some of us do though. There are still some of us who appreciate what he has done for his country and county and believe he should be back in uniform ASAP !

    • e

      that’s why it is called medical leave–a-hole—and he tried to come back—Billy is a s bad as the one he replaced

  • Hubert Muncy

    One thing no one understands, there is Not One Lawyer around here with the Guts / Balls to stand up to MCSO…

    • Linda Ball Grohman

      Charles Holloman will

      • Jennifer Marie

        Yea right. No he won’t or he would have already. This is not new. They been corrupt

    • Fred

      Why would a Lawyer go after the people that provide cases for them?

  • Mike Rogers

    I’v never seen an agency, any agency, government or not that has had problems and accusations of corruption as the MCSO. New sheriff same accusations. I thought the last temporary sheriff cleaned house, apparently not.

  • Jerry3701

    All those who vote him in(Billy Woods) should not give him another trim.

  • barb

    If anyone really expected there to be a change at MCSO, well, SURPRISE.

  • Doug Metz

    That’s nothing, wait about 20-30 years when the retirement funds go broke.

  • Christopher Watson

    I was terminated medical by MCSO after telling them I was putting in retirement papers due to health. They told me to wait. A month went by and low and behold I get terminated medically. Geee this policy started way back 2005. Here I am ready to retire but tried to cut medical insurance and other stuff by firing me as terminated medically. Don’t make the mistake I did and tell them u retiring they terminate u in a heart beat then not even talk to u about it. But I got them retirement paper work was submitted 2 months latter got In Line of Duty retirement from state of Florida cause I had several doctors who signed it I never work again. Only 1 % of Law Enforcement Officers ever get that. This has been part of the picture they have been doing for years.

  • Eddie

    Yep-another bad Marion county sheriff in charge(I voted for woods-but never again) -how long will this one last -now we have a bad sheriff and BAD chief of police- OPD chief busted for sexting female officers -chief of police asking wife for tit pics while on her cruise to show other officers pic at the lodge(Chief is also known for cursing in morning briefings)- gets 4 month paid leave-must help being buddies with Mayor -while great officers like officer Scaglione gets forced out(retirement) after 22 years + for saying one cruse word S— in a training class at cfc-then chief want to put in his retirement contract that if Officer Scaglione says anything bad about the chief (after forced into retirement)while training officers in at cfc -Scaglione would have to pay directly to the chief $750.. for each incident-isn’t that a form of Extortion? I think we need to flush all of these Buddies out of office-Sheriff/OPD chief(and deputy chief) and mayor(board members-out for good)
    Internal affairs really needs to look into these department–or FDLE-nothing but problems ahead

  • Tim Boyle

    HMMMM….. Maybe I should run. Retired Fed with 32 yrs experience. Former Republican County Chairman in Virginia. I hate corruption and once put a major city Councilman in Jail.

    • Mike Rogers

      I’m a big fan of promoting within a company/department providing morale is high and accusations of corruptions or harassment are low. Clearly in the MCSO that is not the case. Maybe it’s time to appoint the sheriff position but that’s for another debate as that is a hot-button topic for many.

  • Stephen Paraski

    Elected and Appointed Officials have no respect for Career Civil Servants. R or D means nothing, they are all crooks, serving not the Citizens, but those who got them Elected. The Donors pull strings, get so and so group to “Endorse” a Candidate. Once elected they are beholden to those who put them in office. I know Voters Vote, but most go by party line. MAGA my A*s. All these vermin want is to enrich themselves by using their office. How many services that local Government provided have been “Privatized” ? Up here in Michigan all we hear is “business can do it better, cheaper.” In long run it cost’s more and service is degraded. The US is headed back to the “good ole day’s” of Robber Barons’s and it is no longer about Justice, it is How Much Justice Can You Afford. There is such a thing as Civil Service Rules, but these new politicians threw that book out window, hire friends and family. Today’s breed of Politicians would make Boss Tweed proud.