[UPDATE] Local City Manager Found Guilty of Felony and Misdemeanor Charges

By: Deneige Broom Email
By: Deneige Broom Email

Quincy, FL --- May 22, 2012 --- 4:30p.m.

Midway's City Manager, Auburn Ford, was found guilty in a Gadsden County courtroom Tuesday of a felony and misdemeanor.

It took the 6 person jury, 30 minutes to find him guilty.

"We're obviously very happy with the outcome," said prosecutor Angelique Hutchins.

Ford was on trial for a misdemeanor assault charge and a felony charge for preventing or obstructing the extinguishment of a fire, stemming from a 2011 run-in with firefighters.

Fire Chief Chris Lance and two other firefighters showed up at Ford's home in Midway, telling him to put out the trash fire in his yard.

Lance told Ford they'd received a call about him burning the trash. There was a "no-burn after dark" rule in place. Lance said Ford was in violation of that rule.

Ford says he'd already put out the fire before the sun went down, and that it was only smoldering.

Ford says when he tried to take his shovel from one of the firefighters to put dirt on the fire, he was assaulted.

"I guess that was the opportunity for him [Chris Lance] to put me in a choke hold from the rear and all three of them took me to the ground," said Ford.

The Gadsden County Sheriff's Office investigate and didn't file charges.

Ford filed assault charges with the State Attorney's office but they were thrown out.

Fire Chief Chris Lance filed assault charges as well and those stuck.

Lance said in a police report that Ford swung at him and they had to hold him down until deputies could arrive.

Ford asserts he was only waving at them to get the flashlight out of his face.

However, a jury of his peers didn't see it that way.

Ten people took the stand in the trial that lasted a little more than a day.

Chief Lance wasn't one of them.

There will be a pre-sentencing investigation and Judge Jonathan Sjostrom asked both parties to meet during that time.

Sentencing is expected sometime in July.

Ford could face up to five years for the felony and just under a year for the misdemeanor.

Quincy, FL - May 22, 2012 - 11:15am

A local city manager has just been found guilty of felony and misdemeanor charges.

Eyewitness News was in the Gadsden County courtroom when he heard the verdict.

Auburn Ford became Midway's city manager after the incident more than a year ago. It started when he was burning trash in his yard.

Eyewitness News spoke to Ford last year after the incident. He said firefighters came to his home telling him to put out the trash fire and he said last year that he told them to leave. Ford told Eyewitness News last year that Fire Chief Lance jumped on his back and choked him, holding him down. Chief Lance reported that Ford swung at him. According to the police report, Ford swung at one of the firefighters. Ford was also in the hospital after that scuffle.

Ford was charged with a misdemeanor count of assaulting a firefighter and a felony for preventing or obstructing the firefighters from putting out the fire. The trial began Monday, and by 10:00am Tuesday, the six person jury began deliberating. It took about 30 minutes for them to come back with a verdict. The sentencing date will be in July.

Ford could face up to five years for the felony and just under a year for the misdemeanor.

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