• Investigation requested over Groveland mayor's incriminating data email request


    GROVELAND, Fla. - A state investigation has been requested for a central Florida city already rocked by series of high-level resignations. 

    Now, allegations that the mayor of Groveland asked the city's IT director to help him look for incriminating data.

    Investigative reporter Christopher Heath uncovered the email, though it's unclear what Mayor James Gearhart was after or if anything was deleted.

    Channel 9 learned the city manager and city clerk were notified and the city attorney has already spoken to the council about Florida law and the deletion of public records.

    In an email dated July 25, Groveland's IT director, Andy Sapp, wrote to the city clerk and city manager stating, "I just wanted to get this in writing that I was requested to use my computer skill knowledge after work to find and locate any incriminating data for the mayor of Groveland, James Gearhart. My decision is to stay away from this situation and not utilize my skills or my interpretation of what incriminating data is."

    Sapp's email came two days after Groveland police Chief Mark Palmer announced his resignation and two weeks after the public works manager and the utility supervisor resigned from their posts.

    On Thursday, Channel 9 confirmed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has received a complaint and is considering an investigation into the city, but officials would not elaborate as to the nature of the complaint.

    Heath spoke to the city manage, who said he is aware of the email and has spoken to the city attorney about the matter.

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    Investigation requested over Groveland mayor's incriminating data email request