JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is responding to published reports that Sheriff John Rutherford erased tickets for a local television reporter.
Our news partner The Florida Times-Union reported that WJXT Channel 4 traffic anchor Ashley Mitchem received three tickets from Officer Jose Marrero, after previously receiving two warnings from the same officer.
Mitchem told the paper she contacted Rutherford personally because the repeated interactions with Marrero made her uncomfortable.
Sheriff's Office policy requires that issuing officers and the Chief Judge be notified when tickets are voided, but according to the paper, that did not happen in this case.
First Coast News has obtained an email from Marrero to his supervising lieutenant, expressing his "disgust" over the way the incident was handled.
In the email, Marrero said he contacted JSO's Integrity Unit after learning the tickets were voided. He said that unit's commander told him the tickets had been voided because the Undersheriff believed Marrero was "stalking" Mitchem.
READ: Officer Marrero email to his supervisor
Marrero said those concerns were never expressed to him, which he found puzzling, given what he called the "serious nature" of the allegations. He went on to say he felt "betrayed by my superiors" and he believed the "actions taken were criminal in nature and fit the Florida State Statute for official misconduct ... "
It does not appear from Marrero's email that the officer knew that Sheriff Rutherford had voided the tickets.
The Sheriff's Office did not directly challenge the facts of the T-U story, but released a statement that said the sheriff regularly fields citizen complaints and that this situation was handled appropriately.
Sheriff Rutherford has not responded to FCN's request for an interview.
Marrero has not spoken publicly about what happened. WJXT said Mitchem would not comment, but Channel 4 General Manager Bob Ellis emailed FCN a statement.
It said that Mitchem "felt she was put in a very uncomfortable situation" by the officer.
Ellis also added, "She called the sheriff, just like many people in Jacksonville do every day ... To suggest she did anything more is irresponsible."
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JSO responds to reports of erasing TV reporter's tickets
Heather Crawford reports on the local news reporter traffic tickets voided by JSO.