ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- A Boy Scouts of America park ranger/caretaker is charged with
accepting bribes from probationers sent to the Boy Scout Camp to perform
community service hours.
Michael Kenneth Eble Sr., 50, was arrested Tuesday after being charged with commercial bribe receiving, according to a report from the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
He has since bonded out for $20,000, according to Lt. David Barnes, head of the CCSO financial crimes unit. Eble had to pack up his things and move out of Camp Echockotee, where he was a park ranger.
According to the CCSO police report, Brian Patterson, BSA director of support services in Jacksonville, said he was told by Sharon Wiggins, who was in an eight-month relationship with Eble, that she saw him accept cash from individuals who were court-ordered to perform community service at Camp Echockotee.
Wiggins, who is no longer in a relationship with Eble, told Patterson that Eble would tell these individuals how much they had to pay and he would then verify that they had performed their community service hours, the report said.
The CCSO Financial Crimes Section investigated Eble's activity from November to August and had a list of 52 people who were ordered to perform probation, Barnes said.
They found that of the 52 people, five people admitted to paying Eble $8 to $10 per hour, one person did him a personal favor and three people bought Eble lunch.
Barnes said the Financial Crimes Section suspects Eble's activity had been going on longer than eight months. It will be up to the Department of Corrections if the probationers have to redo their hours.
Jack L. Sears, Jr., Scout Executive and CEO for the North Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America, issued the following statement:
"We are deeply disappointed to learn of this isolated incident at Camp Echockotee, by a Boy Scout employee -- the Camp's Ranger/caretaker," stated Jack Sears, Scout Executive and CEO of the North Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America.
"The actions of this employee do not represent the principles of Scouting, will not be tolerated; and accordingly, Mr. Eble's employment and membership in Scouting has been terminated."
"The North Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America has been and continues to cooperate with the Clay County Sheriff's office."
First Coast News