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Scott: Chief deputy displayed ‘a blatant disregard’ for orders

By Staff | Mar 12, 2009

The second-in-command of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office showed “a blatant disregard” for orders and tried to aid his brother, Sheriff Mike Scott concluded in a response to a new grievance released by the agency Thursday.
Chief Deputy Charles J. Ferrante tried to intimidate an employee into removing a disparaging document from the personnel file of his brother, Dominick Ferrante, before it could be released to the media, the grievance stated.
The grievance is the latest in a sudden stack of allegations against both Ferrante brothers.
Dominick Ferrante, former head of the special operations division, resigned from the sheriff’s office last week under accusations he threatened another captain, Gary Kamp, commander of the training division.
Charles Ferrante was suspended with pay Monday, pending an internal investigation into alleged heavy-handed disciplinary tactics.
The new grievance, filed by agency legal advisor Abbi Smith, describes an encounter with the chief deputy March 5, the day after Dominick Ferrante resigned.
Smith wrote that she was helping prepare Dominick Ferrante’s personnel file for media release, with the help of Charles Ferrante, Scott and Colonel Michael L. Waite, the agency’s third-in-command. Scott was on the phone at the time.
Smith advised Waite that the file should include Scott’s response to Kamp’s complaint about Dominick Ferrante, in which the sheriff declared Kamp’s account substantiated.
Charles Ferrante, she wrote, suggested the document not be included.
“Chief (Deputy Ferrante) told me that the paper I was referring to ‘did not belong in the captain’s file,'” Smith wrote in the grievance.
Ferrante, she continued, repeated himself twice, and “his voice made his intentions clear,” the grievance stated. He never yelled, for fear Scott would overhear, Smith wrote.
In a response written Thursday, Scott said he told Charles Ferrante multiple times to “distance himself from the concerns surrounding his brother.”
“By approaching you with even a hint of suggestion that his brother’s personnel file be purged of certain items, I find that Chief Ferrante displayed a blatant disregard for my orders in an effort to assist his brother,” Scott wrote to Smith.
The deputy chief cannot be punished while in suspension, Scott wrote, but he said the grievance would go in his file.
Ferrante, 42, was appointed chief deputy in January 2005, following Scott’s election. He previously served as an assistant district commander and the head of the fugitive warrants unit. As chief deputy, he oversees operations of the agency’s five bureaus.
His Monday suspension came on the day he was supposed to tender a letter of retirement. The retirement announcement was itself a surprise, made by Scott a few days after Dominick Ferrante’s resignation.
Charles Ferrante later told a local media outlet that he wanted to look for a law enforcement chief’s job somewhere else in the state.

Steven Beardsley is a staff writer for the Naples Daily News. Contact sbeardsley@naplesnews.com.