Did an elected official try to cover up the Plant City police chief's extra-marital affair?

Alleged mistress says commissioner pressured her

PLANT CITY, Fla. - One day after the Plant City Police Chief lost his job, there are new concerns about whether an elected official tried to keep it under wraps.

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City Manager Greg Horwedel announced the termination of Chief Steven Singletary due to an extra-marital affair they said he facilitated on city time.

In the middle of a half hour interview with the alleged mistress, Melissa Hardwick, city investigators asked if anyone tried to stop her from talking.

She named two people: the chief's wife and newly elected commissioner, Billy Keel.

Keel and Singletary are close friends.

Hardwick admits she had a three-year affair with the now former chief, at times when he should have been working.

She said Commissioner Keel texted one of her friends in an attempt to silence her and save the chief's job.

"How did you feel about that?" The investigator asked Hardwick.

"It made me mad," she said. "He wanted me not to speak to anyone."

On Wednesday, nobody answered the door at Keel's Plant City home. An employee at the business he owns, Matrix Medical, said he wasn't in today and would not be commenting.

"I don't know if I would call it a concern. I think it's just an outgrowth of some of the statements that were made during the investigation," said Horwedel.

Horwedel wouldn't speak for the commissioner, but defended the integrity of the city's investigation.

"He did not, to my knowledge, tell me or any of the folks that I had working on this to shade the findings in any way or cover up anything. I always found Commissioner Keel to be a man of integrity," he said.

Commissioner and former Mayor Michael Sparkman said he's concerned about Keel's comments, but said he needs to do some more research before he can comment further.

The results of the city's administrative investigation will be forwarded to the FDLE. That agency will then determine if any other misconduct occurred.

The next commission meeting is set for Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
 

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