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Midway City Manager Sentenced

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Midway's city manager has been sentenced to spend 90 days in jail.

Auburn Ford unexpectedly decided Thursday to admit he violated his probation by possessing a firearm.

"I just made a mistake and it's all on me," said Ford in court.

Only WCTV Eyewitness News had a camera in the courtroom for the sentencing.

It all started last week when agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement served a warrant on Ford's home and Midway City Hall.

They were looking for information about the grant money for the new firehouse.

When agents asked Ford if he had a firearm, he told them one was locked in his brief case in his city vehicle, even though the vehicle was not included in the search warrant.

"I told them where it was," Ford said. "I didn't try to hide anything," he said.

Ford was placed on probation after an altercation with a firefighter.

On Tuesday, Assistant State Attorney Stefan Grow presented documents Ford signed saying he wouldn't possess a firearm during his probation.

"Mr. Ford completely forgot about those conditions of probation," said Ford's attorney Fred Pearson. "He first said he didn't even remember signing the documents, but he did," he said.

"His violation occurred almost a year and month close to the day after he signed the paper work," said Grow.

Ford said he stashed his wife's gun in his trunk to keep it away from his sons.

While Gadsden County Judge Jonathan Sjostrom said he believed Ford, he also said it didn't matter.

"I just can't tolerate people having firearms on probation," said Judge Sjostrom.

"I'd like to apologize to you, I'd like to apologize to my family and the community," Ford told the judge.

In addition to the 90 days jail time, Ford was sentenced to one year of a strict form of probation called community control.

Also, the probation violation also means Ford has been found guilty of a felony from his previous case.

So far, there's been no comment about Ford's job status from Midway city leaders.


By: Andy Alcock
August 22, 2013

Midway, FL - Midway's City Manager, Auburn Ford, has admitted to a probation violation after a firearm was found in his city issued vehicle by authorities.

Agents found the firearm while executing a search warrant at Ford’s home. The search warrant was part of a separate on-going investigation by FDLE and FBI.

Ford, who was on felony probation with the Florida Department of Corrections until July 2014, has been sentenced to 90 days in the county jail and 1 year of community control.

Ford is technically now a convicted felon.


An emergency hearing was held to determine if Midway's city manager should be released from jail or not.

Auburn Ford is currently in custody on a probation violation for possessing a firearm.

Gadsden County Judge Jonathan Sjostrom granted the emergency hearing just hours after Ford's attorney Fred Pearson requested it.

Only WCTV Eyewitness News was there as Ford appeared in court after being transported from the Leon County Jail.

As we first reported Monday, it's not his first appearance since his arrest.

On Friday, he appeared before Leon County Judge Judith Hawkins.

She released Ford on his own recognizance.

Ford was then re-arrested on the same charge and ordered held without bond by Judge Sjostrom.

Pearson argued Judge Hawkins' order should stand.

However, Assistant State Attorney Stefan Grow presented new evidence not shown to Judge Hawkins.

That new evidence was documents Ford signed agreeing not to possess a firearm as part of his probation.

However, after listening to the tape of Judge Hawkins's hearing, Judge Sjostrom has said he'lll issue a written opinion in 24 hours as to whether or not Judge Hawkins' order should stand.

As it stands now, Ford is being held without bond.

Ford is due back in court on Thursday.

His arraignment is scheduled for September 11th.

Midway's mayor and other city leaders were in court for the emergency hearing.

The city scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday night at 7 at Midway City Hall, in part, to update city commissioners on Ford's status.


Midway's city manager is in jail again with no timeline for his release.

Auburn Ford was arrested for a probation violation for possessing a firearm Thursday.

After a Gadsden County judge passed on the case because she knows Ford, Leon County Judge Judith Hawkins released him Friday on his own recognizance.

That decision came after Ford's attorney Fred Pearson argued the probation papers show no indication Ford can't carry a firearm.

By law, Pearson says a suspect must knowingly and willfully violate probation terms to find a violation.

Pearson says he hasn't seen any evidence Ford knowingly violated his probation.

However, the state attorney's office, noting no firearm possession is standard in probation cases, went to a second Gadsden County judge who issued a no bond order on the same charge.

Ford was re-arrested Friday.

He's now being held in the Leon County Jail without bond.

Pearson says he plans to file an emergency motion before the Gadsden County judge.

That two part motion requests either a re-instatement of Judge Hawkins' ruling to release Ford on his own recognizance or to set a bond for him.


By: Andy Alcock

The small town of Midway in Gadsden County is now the focus of a federal and state investigation.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are conducting a joint investigation.

It's already resulted in the arrest of Midway's city manager on a charge unrelated to the investigation.

The investigation focuses on the city's new fire house.

Last Thursday, Midway city leaders and others cut the ribbon on the brand new Fire Station 2.

One week later, FBI and FDLE agents executed a search warrant at Midway City Hall looking for information about the fire station grant money.

"I don't know what they could find," said Midway City Attorney Henry C. "Skip" Hunter. "The fire station has been audited more than any other project in Midway," Hunter said.

According to the search warrant, agents were focused on four city hall offices, one reception desk and mail slots in the employee break room.

Additionally the warrant targeted five desk top computers and possibly a lap top computer.

According to FDLE, officers also executed a search warrant at Midway City Manager Auburn Ford's home.

There, they found a firearm in his city issued vehicle Hunter says was locked in the brief case in his trunk.

Ford was taken to the Gadsden County Jail and charged with a violation of his ongoing probation for possessing the firearm.

Ford is on probation after a 2012 conviction for assault and preventing or obstructing the extinguishment of a fire.

"He's been a law enforcement officer all the time I've known him up until now, Highway Patrol and working over in Gretna," said Hunter.

The new fire house was paid for with $650,000 of federal block grant money administered by the state of Florida.

At the ribbon cutting, it was noted the project was completed under budget at roughly $520,00 and is the first city building erected in Midway in 20 plus years.

Additionally, it was built by local minority contractor Sam Stevens.

Stevens girlfriend told us more than a dozen officers came to Stevens' home to search his residence.

At the ribbon cutting, Stevens noted he hasn't yet been paid for his work.

Hunter says that statement, a week later, is still true.

"It's built with funds we're waiting for the state to release," he said.

Hunter tells us, despite his arrest, Auburn Ford's job status as Midway City Manager hasn't changed.

Firehouse project contractor Sam Stevens was unavailable for comment.


HAVANA – Today, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Tallahassee Regional Operations Center arrested Midway City Manager Auburn Ford, 53, of Havana, Fla., for violating his probation after law enforcement agents found a firearm in his city issued vehicle.

Ford is on felony probation with the Florida Department of Corrections until July 2014.

Agents found the firearm while executing a search warrant at Ford’s home. The search warrant was part of a separate on-going investigation by FDLE and FBI.

Ford was arrested without incident at his home and booked into the Gadsden County Jail.


By: Andy Alcock

The Midway City Manager, Auburn Ford, has been arrested, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are serving a search warrant at City Hall.

The search warrant was served at 8 a.m., and federal and state officials are still investigating.


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