Former Top Lake County Deputy Makes Stunning Allegations
After 21 years of service with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Captain Mike Ford retired last September from a job he loved. When we asked him why, he said, “I took my own advice- if you don’t like it leave.” When we asked Ford if he had sour grapes or was a disgruntled former employee he said, “Absolutely correct! I’m also a disgruntled citizen. They got tired of going around me so they came after me.”
Retired Captain Mike Ford, by his account and according to public records, served the Lake County Sheriff’s Department honorably for more than two decades with promotions from Deputy, to Sergeant, to Lieutenant, and, for the last five years of his career he served as Captain. According to Ford, he has never been given a written negative review, never violated the law, and has never been reprimanded for a policy violation. Ford contends his departure from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office had more to do with him crossing Deputy “friends” of then Major Borders and Borders’ willingness to protect them while Sheriff. Ford said, “The reason why I left was because our Sheriff’s department no longer had the best interest of Lake County- the motto was “Protect the Sheriff.”
Citizens for Better Government, L.L.C. understands this is an election year, and the Sheriff’s race between Sheriff Gary Borders and Captain Sandy Carpenter is going to be very contentious with a lot of mud being slung in all directions. For many years, there has been a whisper campaign against Sheriff Borders questioning everything from his lifestyle to his ethics. Our newsletter has ignored such innuendo, because no one could be attributed to the accusations. Despite this, Sheriff Borders has been a frequent target on our blog comment page.
When Retired Captain Mike Ford came forward to us to discuss the Sheriff’s Office, and we found out that he had a long history with Sheriff Borders dating back to a time when Borders was a Major in charge of the jail, his comments and concerns held a higher degree of veracity. Prior to our interview with Ford, we reached out to several citizens who had firsthand knowledge of Ford’s character, and we were told it was impeccable.
Before this interview was released, we reached out to Lieutenant John Herrell from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department-Office of Professional Standards, and he confirmed that Mike Ford retired in good standing with no major criminal or ethical violations. We informed Lieutenant Herrell that our group had talked to Ford, and that he had made serious employment allegations against Sherriff Gary Borders and the Sheriff’s Department. Lieutenant Herrell felt Ford was politically motivated; however, he offered no other plausible reason why the former 21-year-retired captain would come out against his former boss.
We realize this is election season, and the race between Sheriff Gary Borders and Captain Sandy Carpenter is in full throttle; however, Ford raises some serious issues that go well beyond campaign mudslinging. Ford’s willingness to interview on the record adds credence. In addition, he is doing so despite his belief that he and his family could face reprisals from members of the Sheriff’s Department who are loyal to Sheriff Borders. We sure hope his fears are unfounded.
In this The Right Side of the Lake newsletter, as well as the next one, we will present a series of questions we asked Retired Captain Mike Ford. Some of his responses suggest possible criminal, civil and ethical concerns. We did not discuss the interview or responses ahead of time with Sheriff Borders, because of Ford’s concerns of retaliation; however, we will give Sheriff Borders the opportunity to rebut or answer any of the charges.
Statement from Retired Captain Mike Ford
The reason I have decided to do this interview is not for political motives. It is because so many employees at the L.C.S.O. are suffering.
This interview needed to be done whether there was an election this year or not. When I retired, I had no intention of ever working in public service again. I take offense to Lieutenant Herrell’s accusation that my comments are politically motivated. This is a personal issue I have with the administration of the L.C.S.O.
My family has been hurt and discriminated against due to my employment at the L.C.S.O. Most command staff members do not put their families first. I’ve done many things in my life I am not proud of. I have hurt people who loved me. My God and my family have forgiven me.
After this interview is released, the L.C.S.O. damage control team will begin a smear campaign on me and my family. The “anonymous” bloggers will have a real good time at my family’s expense. The Sheriff and his staff may not say anything publicly, but they will use their resources against my family. I would hope that the Sheriff and his staff would look at themselves and see what 90% of the L.C.S.O. employees see.
I am a citizen of Lake County simply voicing my concerns about how “our” L.C.S.O. is using the money we the taxpayers work so hard for.
Q: Have you ever been interviewed by the FBI in connection with an investigation of Sheriff Borders for allegedly giving a car to an inmate as a gift?
Ford: Yes, the FBI has interviewed me, but I really didn’t know anything about it.
Q: We understand you were the subject of an Internal Affairs investigation based on a complaint made by Sergeant Lee Piper, who is reported to be a close friend of Sheriff Borders?
Ford: Borders tried to get me fired. He is absolutely vindictive of anyone who messes with his friends; he goes after you. He will send people after you.
Q: What happened between you and Sergeant Piper?
Ford: We had a shakedown of the jail, because of a missing knife, and Lee Piper never helped once. When I asked him why he didn’t help, he told me because no one asked him. At that point, he began calling someone from his cell phone, presumably Borders, and I told him to hang the phone up because I was his boss. He later filed a complaint stating I had slapped the phone from his hands, but it was dropped because there was no truth to it.
Q: Do you know for sure if Sheriff Borders has participated in personal relationships with people in the jail?
Ford: Are you asking me about inmates or officers?
Q: What about both?
Ford: Relationships – yes.
Q: Let’s define relationship – physical relationship?
Ford: I don’t know.
Q: Do you believe Sheriff Borders had inappropriate relationships with men who worked with him?
Ford: What leads me to believe he had inappropriate relationships is anybody that Borders took an interest in-mostly young and new hires-he would spend lots of time with them going to stores, vacations and his home. Within a short period of time of those relationships, they would be promoted or put in desirable positions which were above discipline.
Q: We have been told by sources of an incident, while you were a Lieutenant in the jail, that then Major Gary Borders had with an inmate whose brother, Deputy Scott Stone, currently works at the Sheriff’s Office. Do you know anything about this incident?
Ford: Scott Stone is Borders’ current “favorite” deputy. Two officers in the jail told me that (Scott Stone’s brother-inmate) was being ridiculed by other inmates in his unit because Borders grabbed his butt. I went to Major Borders and said, “I’ve got two officers telling me that (Scott Stone’s brother-inmate) told them you grabbed his butt and the other inmates saw it and were making fun of it.” Borders response was, “This is great-right here at election time.” I said, “What would you like me to do?” Borders told me, “Make it go away.” I sent him to the Seminole County jail. It was a courtesy hold that local Sheriff’s Departments do all the time.
Q: What do you know of the relationship between Scott Stone and Sheriff Gary Borders?
Ford: Borders has been friends with that family for some time, and he (Stone) has become his favorite employee-favorite Deputy. Scott Stone did not have to use the chain of command, just as the other employees he took interest in.
Q: Did you know about Sheriff Borders’ actions and alleged allegations at the Green Isle Boys Ranch?
Ford: I worked for 15 years as a supervisor for Borders, and I never heard anything of the Green Isle Boys ranch. I now know he participated in it. I would never send my boy there if I knew he was in charge.
I don’t want my children to go to schools where Lake County Sheriff Resource Officers are, because Borders makes all the decisions on student charges based on who the child is and who their parents are.
Q: Is it selected prosecution?
In Friday’s The Right Side of the Lake-Part 2, our interview with Lake County Sheriff’s Department Retired Captain Mike Ford continues, and he discusses whether Sheriff Borders has been compromised; corruption in the department; wasteful spending; and, a special position for a person he believes is grossly unqualified. Citizens for Better Government, L.L.C. allowed Retired Captain Ford an opportunity to review the questions and responses he gave prior to publication, and he acknowledges all of his published responses to be accurate, and he stands behind each one of them.
If true, we find the incidents described by Retired Captain Mike Ford very troublesome, and it concerns us that there are Deputies in the Sheriff’s Department who cannot speak out because they are afraid to speak their mind due to reprisals. We believe that Lake County government should take the comments of Retired Captain Mike Ford very seriously, and the Lake County Board of County Commissioners should appoint an independent ombudsman who can confidentially speak to all employees to ensure against a hostile work environment at the Sheriff’s Department.
This is not a lifestyle issue; rather, this is a serious employment issue that could lead to millions of dollars in claims, if it is found that a hostile work environment exists at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Borders should welcome an ombudsman to ensure Deputies below him are not misrepresenting his direction or relationship. One way or another, the truth will surface, and Retired Captain Mike Ford will either be the “Norma Rae” of the Sheriff’s Department or deemed another campaign hack.
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