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Sheriff: Division head resigns after lying about threat

By Staff | Mar 5, 2009

A Lee County Sheriff’s Office captain resigned Wednesday after an internal investigation showed the officer threatened another captain’s job, telling him to “prepare for retaliation.”
Capt. Dominick Ferrante, who was the commander of the special investigations division, lied about the threat of retaliation, Sheriff Mike Scott said Thursday afternoon during a news conference.
Ferrante and the other captain, Gary Kamp, took polygraph examinations Tuesday.
“Kamp said the word was used, the threat was used,” Scott said.
Ferrante said the threat was not made and the word was not used.
Ferrante’s polygraph showed “deception,” Scott said. Kamp’s showed “veracity” that he was telling the truth.
Scott began an investigation in the middle of February when he was notified of the threat against Kamp. Scott said the threat was in reference to Kamp’s employment with the sheriff’s office.
“I took care of this myself,” Scott said, explaining that Kamp’s supervisors were not available. Also, one of the other supervisors — Chief Deputy Charles Ferrante — is Dominick Ferrante’s brother.
Lt. Gregory “Shane” Hingson notified Scott of the comment and an e-mail from Dominick Ferrante containing inappropriate references to Kamp.
The e-mail was not available Thursday afternoon, said John Sheehan, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
According to Scott, the sequence of events began when Ferrante used forfeiture funds to order six specialized weapons at a cost of about $700 each for the sheriff’s office gang unit without going through proper policy.
Typically, weapon purchases are sent through a chain of command to include the training division, which Kamp supervises. The training division is involved to maintain accountability, Scott said.
In this case, Ferrante took the purchase order to Scott, who signed off on it. Scott said nothing illegal or inappropriate occurred in the ordering of the weapons, but policy was not followed.
The gun issue was an “honest misunderstanding internally,” he said.
The weapons were ordered and the company which took the order called the training division to question why the “twist” in the barrel of the guns was different from what the sheriff’s office typically orders.
A hold was placed on the order.
Ferrante and Kamp discussed the issue and that is when the threat was allegedly made, Scott said. Kamp was apparently “fearful” for his job.
“Basically Dominick lied to me about what he said to Kamp,” Scott said. “I don’t like lying.”
As were his predecessors, Scott is tough on deputies who lie. They are fired.
“It won’t be tolerated,” he said.
“I don’t see rank, I don’t see names, I don’t see relations,” Scott said, referring to the chief deputy and Ferrante being brothers.
Scott did praise Ferrante for the work he has done for the sheriff’s office in combating drugs, and as commander of the gang unit, among other things.
“The man did a lot of good for this agency,” Scott said.
Ferrante worked for the sheriff’s office from Feb. 24, 1992, until Jan. 22, 2000, when he went to work for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
When Scott was elected in 2004, he asked Ferrante to return to the agency, the sheriff said Thursday.
Ferrante returned Dec. 31, 2004, and remained employed until his resignation Wednesday. He left the agency “not in good standing,” but the case will not be referred to FDLE for possible sanctions.
A man reached by telephone Thursday night at a residence where Ferrante lives said, “Don’t believe everything you hear.”
He said he was not Ferrante, but would give Ferrante a message to return the call. Another telephone number had a woman’s voice on it.
Ferrante did not return either call.
In a letter to Scott and other high-ranking members of the sheriff’s office, Ferrante wrote, “Due to unforeseen and irreconcilable differences with the office of the sheriff, I am resigning my position as deputy sheriff, commanding officer of the Special Investigations Division effective 5:00 p.m. March 4, 2009.”
Scott accepted the resignation after receiving it Wednesday.

Valli Finney is a correspondent for the Naples Daily News. E-mail vallimfinney@yahoo.com.