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Could the sheriff repay a year's worth of his salary? Attorney says you'd have to convince the courts

Williams was aware of the city charter, but he believed he could legally live outside of Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sheriff Mike Williams recently announced his retirement. He will leave office on June 10. 

In a statement, he mentioned how he is looking forward to ensuring a smooth transition. His departure would say otherwise. 

While Williams has been living in Nassau County for more than a year, many asked if the city of Jacksonville could recoup his salary. Attorney Tad Delegal III, Delegal & Poindexter, said it would prove to be difficult. 

"At all times there's been the perception and belief and he's actually doing the work as sheriff," Delegal explained. 

The legal expert believes while he was acting in the position of sheriff. Even though a constitutional lawyer told First Coast News the draft opinion from the city attorney showed Williams clearly vacated his seat, Delegal said it would be very difficult to recoup the money. To Delegal, Williams was "performing under a mistaken belief". However, the sheriff did admit he was aware of the city charter. Williams thought a law from 2010 legally allowed him to live outside the city.

"You would have to basically prove that he [Williams] was doing it with ill intent?" First Coast News' Tristan Hardy asked. 

"Right, he was trying to obtain a benefit that he knew he should not have been entitled to." Delegal replied. "So, I think that would be the standard. Any kind of fraudulent intent and I don't think you could prove that."  

The attorney said he does not think there is any evidence of fraud. From his perspective, Williams was operating in good faith. 

Delegal mentioned how the sheriff's situation is similar to a court ruling in 1971; Maudsley V. City of North Lauderdale. He explained how a police officer was terminated but was owed a certain amount of back pay. From the court's perspective, Delegal said the person was not certified as a police officer for the time he was seeking pay, but should still be treated for backpay purposes. 

"Mike Williams received pay for a period of time in which he was not technically qualified for the position, but that does not mean that you can go back and take away the pay or benefits that were paid to him while he served in that position," Delegal explained. 

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