Mel Eakley isn’t concerned about a pending lawsuit against his former boss and sheriff of Pasco County, saying it shouldn’t worry local voters.
Eakley, who will challenge Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast for his badge in 2020, said he’s aware of the class-action racketeering (RICO) suit filed April 16 against Pasco County Sheriff Christopher Nocco and 14 other agency employees, but has no intention to read it.
“I don’t want to spend time reading it,” he said. “Whatever the allegations are, they happened long after I left, it seems like anyway. ... It doesn’t pertain to me.”
Eakley, who’s not listed as a defendant in the complaint filed in the U.S. Court’s Middle District of Florida, retired from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) in October 2016 after almost 23 years of service, and obtained the rank of colonel upon retirement.
“I had an impeccable career, and that’s all I can say,” Eakley said.
Out of the 15 defendants, at least four — not including Nocco — have contributed a total of $2,100 to Eakley’s campaign, which began in January, according to Eakley’s financial disclosures.
“I worked with some fine men and women in law enforcement,” Eakley said about his ex-colleagues. “They have a lot of integrity ... and that spans across all the job descriptions there.”
In their RICO suit, the three named plaintiffs and former PCSO employees document allegations that stem back to 2018 and 2012, when Nocco was first elected sheriff.
The racketeering, or RICO, suit filed April 16 against Pasco County Sheriff's Office Christopher Nocco and several in his administration.
There are also five unnamed “confidential informants,” who make accusations that Nocco and several members of his administration conspired using “a pattern” of “unethical” means to maintain and strengthen their positions.
“Their stories depict a sheriff’s department whose leadership is intoxicated with power and will physically abuse, intimidate, incarcerate, extort and defame in order to ensure their absolute control and ensure a reign of terror both within the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and throughout Pasco County,” states the complaint, drafted by John F. McQuire, of the McGuire Law Offices in Clearwater.
Eakley said his priorities remain on the race: connecting with Citrus County’s voters and introducing them to his policies that look to make their sheriff’s office stronger, lower crime, make roadways safer and crack down on drug sales.
“The campaign is focused on meeting people across Citrus County and identifying things that are important, and sharing with them some of the real data,” he said. “That’s what they should be concerned with, right?”
Eakley is currently running against fellow Republicans Patrick Crippen, Michael Klyap Jr. and Prendergast.