PLANT CITY, Fla. - Plant City Police Chief Steve Singletary was fired Tuesday, due to a three year extra-marital affair that lead to several Code of Conduct violations.
During a news conference, City Manager Greg Horwedel said the violations "severely compromised Mr. Singletary's ability to server as Plant City's Police Chief."
Horwedel indicated that Singletary falsely called in sick, and used tax payer money to fund some of trysts with his mistress, Melissa Hardwick. Hardwick is married.
Horwedel said the misconduct began occurring when Singletary, 45, was still a captain with the department. He was promoted to top cop last April.
Read 180 pages of documents related to the investigation at http://media2.abcactionnews.com/html/documents/2014/PCchiefPart1.pdf and http://media2.abcactionnews.com/html/documents/2014/PCchiefPart2.pdf
The affair came to light after the mistress's husband, Jason Hardwick, followed the couple to Orlando on January 12, took photographs of them at dinner and threatened to show them at a City Hall meeting.
At the time, Singletary was on an all expense paid trip to Orlando to attend a police conference.
Fearful of those photographs making their way to city leaders, Singletary repeatedly texted his mistress's husband to apologize.
"It was truly painful for me," texted Singletary. "The guilt killed me. Ur a good guy."
Hardwick responded, "Steve have completely destroyed my perfect life."
Hardwick goes on to mention the three children he has with his wife.
Text messages were also traded between Singletary's wife and his mistress. The two women were friends prior to the affair.
"I loved you like a sister!" Courtney Singletary wrote.
The top cop's wife also wrote that she intended to stand by her husband and asked Melissa Hardwick to avoid a "witch hunt."
Singletary, according to Horwedel, was given the opportunity to resign but did not.
During a sworn interview, Singletary denied any part of the affair took place while on duty.
"Clearly I made a mistake, a mistake in my private life. I kept it separate from my job. It didn't cloud my judgment," Singletary said.
Under oath, Melissa Hardwick stated she and Singletary used the paid hotel room in Orlando as a place to engage in sex.
Singletary denied this and called Hardwick a liar.
"It is untruthful," he told investigators.
Melissa Hardwick added that all Singletary cared about was what would happen to his career if the affair was exposed.
In a sworn statement, Hardwick explained how Commissioner Billy Keel contacted her via a friend and asked that she not participate in the investigation so the Chief could keep his job.
Singletary was issued a letter Tuesday informing him he'd been terminated.
Singletary has 30 days to make a written request for a post-termination hearing for the purpose of presenting evidence to clear his name of any stigmatizing information.
Singletary had been with the Plant City Police Department for 16 years.
He was salaried at $85,000 annually.
January 13, 2014- Assistant City Manager Bill McDaniel received a phone call from Plant City Police Chief Steven Singletary. During the conversation, Singletary told McDaniel that he had become involved in an extramarital affair and that the woman's husband had taken photographs of them together at a restaurant in Orlando, where Singletary had been staying to attend a conference of the Florida Police Chief's Association. Singletary advised that the mistress's husband might try to come to that night's commission meeting with the photographs and to hold a press conference on the extramarital affair.
January 14, 2014-City Manager Greg Horwedel, McDaniel and Singletary met. Singletary repeated his admission of an extramarital affair but stated the matter was personal and had nothing to do with his position or job performance.
January 17, 2014- The mistress's husband, Jason Hardwick came to City Hall to meet with McDaniel and Horwedel in the morning. Hardwick advised that Chief Singletary's wife, Courtney Singletary, showed up at the City Hall meeting on Monday to prevent Hardwick from speaking, showing the photographs and holding a press conference.
In the afternoon, Horwedel and McDaniel met with the Chief Singletary at City Hall. Singletary was informed at that time that Hardwick had come forward with complaints/concerns that warranted an administrative investigation. Singletary was advised he would be placed on administrative leave.
An incident also occurred the same afternoon in the City Hall parking lot between Chief Singletary's wife, Hardwick and his companion. Horwedel and McDaniel called the Chief and issued him a directive to have no contact with the Hardwicks and to prevent his wife from doing so because those actions would be detrimental to the investigation.
January 19, 2014- McDaniels obtained sworn, video-recorded statements from the Hardwicks.
January 21, 2014- Horwedel and McDaniel against met with Chief Singletary at City Hall. Singletary was informed a formal investigation was going on and his cooperation was expected.
January 22, 2014- John Lewis, a retired Sarasota police chief, is hired as a private investigator by the city to look into Chief Singletary's conduct.
January 23, 2014- Potential witnesses are interviewed by Lewis and McDaniel. Those interviews resulted in the understanding that those interviewed had no knowledge of the matter under investigation.
In the afternoon, Lewis and McDaniel met with Melissa Hardwick (mistress) to go over her previous sworn statements. At that time, she also led them to a location on Wood Court in Plant City, which she positively identified as the location of an occurrence for the incident that occurred on February 19, 2011, in which she and Chief Singletary were blocked in by a business owner.
That property is located at 2002 Wood Court.
Without Hardwick present, the business owner was questioned. The business owner said he called police when he saw two suspicious cars on his property. Chief Singletary was in one car and his mistress in another. They learned the following:
January 24, 2014- Chief Singletary participated in a sworn interview with Lewis.
January 25, 2014- Officer Dennis Pawlowski is questioned about the occurrence he responded to on Wood Court. Pawlowski reportedly to Lewis he thought the situation was "weird" and that something was "clearly going on."
Note: Findings were provided by City Manager Greg Horwedel, Assistant City Manager Bill McDaniel and Retired Chief of Sarasota, John Lewis. Lewis was retained by the City as a private, independent investigator.
February 19, 2011-
January 12, 2013 (Orlando Incident)
2013 USE OF LEAVE TIME BY CHIEF SINGLETARY
PARKING OF POLICE CAR