Internal report details shakeup at Marion County Sheriff's Office



MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Residents in Marion County are learning more about a scandal that forced candidate Dan Kuhn to give up his campaign for sheriff.

Channel 9's Berndt Petersen obtained a 50-page Internal Affairs report that shows the newly elected sheriff had a hand in exposing Kuhn's behavior.

Sheriff Chris Blair said on Wednesday that what he did was right, and the Internal Affairs report shows the officers he demoted violated the Sheriff's Office code of conduct.

Blair demoted Maj. David Sperring to captain and Capt. Chip Wildy to lieutenant for violating the department's code of conduct.

Both men kept quiet about the extramarital affair that drove former undersheriff Kuhn out of his job and out of last fall's campaign for sheriff.

"The fact is that these people did not come forward," said Blair.

The internal investigation outlines what the men did and also indicates that Blair himself advised that the proper authorities had to be alerted.

"I absolutely had an obligation to take the action that I took," said Blair.

Blair said he first learned of the affair after Kuhn narrowly defeated him in last summer's Republican primary, but he said his actions were not politically motivated.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement did not find evidence for criminal charges against Kuhn, Sperring or Wildy, but they couldn't escape the rules of the Sheriff's Office.

"These were high-ranking officials at the Marion County Sheriff's Office, and we have to set an example going forward that this will not be tolerated," said Blair.

The two deputies were not only demoted in rank but also salary. Each received a 6 percent pay cut and a 30-day unpaid suspension.