Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Sheriff SHOAR Loses "Left and Right Arms" in Wake of Investigations of Michelle O'Connell Shooting, Corruption in St. Johns County Sheriff's Office

This morning's St. Augustine Record contains a veritable puff piece by a young, inexperienced reporter, containing a record number of "Freudian slips" (or "Floridian slips") from the corrupt Sheriff of St. Johns County, DAVID BERNARD SHOAR f/k/a "DAVID BERNARD HOAR." Chief of Law Enforcement ARTHUR MAY (the late corrupt Sheriff NEAL PERRY's son-in-law) and UnderSheriff JOEL BOLANTE have retired. You know its going to be hagiography when the page one photo is taken by a photographer who is either kneeling or lying at their feet, to make them look extra tall!

Like Richard Milhous Nixon upon the departure of H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, later sentenced to federal prison for Watergate crimes, Sheriff SHOAR engages in hagiography. The Special Prosecutor investigating the O'Connell case and federal and state grand juries will speak later. Here's the Record's story, in haec verba, with my emphases and Ed-itorial comments:

Retiring UnderSheriff JOEL BOLANTE and retiring Chief of Law Enforcement ARTHUR MAY
(Ed Slavin's note: Notice that Sheriff SHOAR is not in photo. Wonder why?)

Two St. Johns County Sheriff's Office leaders retire
Posted: June 30, 2015 - 8:51pm


Two recently retired St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office leaders agree the most rewarding part of being in law enforcement is knowing they made a difference in people’s lives.

“There’s no amount of money in the world that can replace the feeling you get when you know you just saved someone’s life or helped them change their life around,” said Undersheriff Joel Bolante.

It is a sentiment Director of Law Enforcement Art May echoes.

“It can’t get any better than knowing you took that guy who was beating a girl to jail and that girl is going to be okay. Or knowing you just arrested that homicide suspect or child molester,” he said. “There’s so many of those instances that it’s unbelievable.”

Bolante and May, both 54, retired this summer after almost 70 years of combined experience in law enforcement.

“I’m losing my left and right arm; they’ll be hard to replace,” said Sheriff David Shoar. “Both have been instrumental in the success of the Sheriff’s Office.”

While both men left at the same time, they took different paths to their last positions in law enforcement.

Getting started: Bolante

Bolante says he was inspired to lead a life dedicated to public service by his father, who served in the Navy for 30 years.

“I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps, but it was hard growing up because we moved from one end of the country to another,” he said. “Every time we’d move, it was in the middle of the school year, and I can’t say I have any life-long friends because of that.”

Law enforcement allowed him to continue his father’s legacy of public service, but in a more stable environment, he said.

At 18, Bolante became a corrections officer at the Florida State Prison.

“Back then, it was the dead-end prison, so most people I dealt with were lifers or were sentenced to death,” he said. “I was exposed to violence at a young age, and I had to grow up quickly. I saw, felt, touched and smelled things the average person just reads about.”

One of the prisoners Bolante dealt with was serial killer Ted Bundy.

“He was very respectful, very cordial, very intelligent and very articulate,” Bolante said. “If it weren’t for the bars separating us, I could see myself sitting and having a beer with him. He seemed like a nice guy, but that was what made him a successful serial killer.”

Bolante served at the Florida State Prison for almost four years before going to work for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

From undercover to undersheriff

Bolante joined the Sheriff’s Office as a deputy in 1984. Over the course of nearly 35 years there, he helped develop the Sheriff’s Office’s first vice and narcotic unit and served as director of operations .

The vice and narcotic unit was developed to combat the rising prevalence of cocaine in St. Johns County streets, he said.

“We were smacked in the face with this new drug we didn’t expect or hear of, and it was the worst thing we had ever seen,” he said. “We never thought our small city would ever experience big-city crime.”

St. Johns County became a pipeline for cocaine, May said.

“We had to develop a program to lay down rules because there were no rules,” he said.

As a result, the Sheriff’s Office created a task force to target crack cocaine. The program was one of the first of its kind in Florida, Bolante said.

About every four months, the Sheriff’s Office conducted major sweeps, arresting 30 to 40 people at a time, he said.

“Our streets were so rampant with drug dealers, that they literally were lined up on streets and fighting for business,” Bolante added.

Early in his career with the vice and narcotic unit, Bolante said he hated everything about the drug trade. But while he was working undercover, one event changed the way he thought about people addicted to drugs.

One night, a woman came up to him and tried to trade her 18-month-old baby for cocaine, he said.

“I was flabbergasted,” he said. “I realized how powerful that stuff is if a mother is willing to break the bond between her and her child for $5 rocks of cocaine.”

Bolante spent almost 10 years with the vice and narcotic unit — now called the organized crime unit — before becoming the director of operations.

As director of operations, Bolante was in charge of all the law enforcement operations for the Sheriff’s Office. That included overseeing all uniform patrol, communications, school resources, SWAT Team, special operations and others.

He had about 50 percent of the agency under his command, he said.

“I went from being undercover and one of the most covert unit in the agency to the most visible,” he said.

In 2004, Shoar promoted him to undersheriff.

“He is a talented, bright star,” Shoar said. “He is a true intellectual and is dedicated to his profession.”

As undersheriff, Bolante was second in command and assisted Shoar in the day-to-day operations of the agency. He also served as acting sheriff when Shoar was out of town.

Ed Slavin notes: No mention of whether SHOAR was out of town or where he was on September 2-3, 2010 when the coverup of the shooting of Michelle O'Connell in the home of Deputy Sheriff JEREMY BANKS began.

Getting started: May

For May, what started out as a summer job as a dispatcher for the Sheriff’s Office turned into a 35-year career.

Ed Slavin notes: No mention of the identity of MAY's father-in-law, the late corrupt Sheriff NEAL PERRY, allegedly forced to retire due to corruption, or the deal SHOAR made to promote MAY in exchange for PERRY's support in the 2004 election.

Originally from Pierson, May said he had never thought about a job in law enforcement.

“At 5-years-old, I was in the Orange Groves, and wanted to be a farmer. I was involved in Futures Farmers of America and 4-H Clubs,” he said.

But his life took a slight turn when his mother moved the family to Crescent Beach when he was about 15.

“I didn’t have a clue where the farms were, so I got involved in the Officer Explorer Program,” he said. “They happened to be having a summer work youth program, so I started working as a dispatcher in the communications center.”

May worked the midnight shift that summer, but when school started, he found himself “having withdrawals.” It wasn’t long before he was back at the Casa Monica in the communications office.

He was still too young to drive, so a deputy would have to take him home at the end of his shift, he said.

Aspiring farmer to successful director

Two days after May turned 18, he joined the police academy.

“I couldn’t even buy my own bullets,” he said. “Back in those days, you could buy beer at 18, but not bullets.”

May worked at the jail while he was going through the police academy. But after six months, Sheriff Dudley Garrett sent him to patrol Hastings, kickstarting his carer as a deputy.

“He called me into his office, and I thought I was in trouble,” May said. “Next thing I know, he throws a set of keys to me and tells me I’m working Hastings.”

He served as a deputy for about four years before becoming a property crime and homicide detective.

May was a successful property crime detective in a position that rarely produced results, Bolante said.

“If you have a stack of 30 cases, you’re lucky if you solve 3 percent of them,” he said. “But Art was pretty effective in crimes that are difficult to solve. He was always coming into the department with radios and stereos; it seemed like he was solving something every day.”

May credits that success with dedicating himself to the people he served.

“I always geared my job to the people before anything else,” he said.

An example was when a family known in the drug scene reported a theft in their house and, within a week, May was able to recover everything.

“The deputies took it lightly, but I decided I wanted to work the case,” he said. “They trust me, and to this day, they are some of my best informants.”

May’s dedication to the people is also recognized by Shoar.

“So much about him is service to the people,” he said.

May became sergeant in 1985 and was promoted to director of law enforcement in 2010.

As director, May oversaw law enforcement, communications, organized crime investigations, public service announcements, bailiffs, SWAT teams and school resources.

“It’s a big job,” he said.

Bolante added: “The marked cars responding to calls you see are the most visible part of the Sheriff’s Office, but that only is a small percentage of what we do and what we represent. It is the part of the agency that is the most visible and gets the most TV shows.”

Leaving behind a legacy

As former leaders of the Sheriff’s Office, May and Bolante said their most important job was developing the next generation of Sheriff’s Office leaders.

“I leave this place knowing we have people behind us who will carry on the same legacy, and that’s through mentorship and teaching,” May said. “Every day is leadership by example.”

Bolante agrees.

“I measure my success, not by the number by the number of people I took to jail or by the rank I achieve or the money I make. I measure my success by those who succeeded in this profession who I know I had some influence on.”

But apart from that, Bolante’s legacy is simple.

“I want people to look at me as a good person,” he said. “More than anything else, more than a good cop, more than an educator, that I’m looked at as a good person.”

Ed Slavin's note: That may be why BOLANTE retired -- not approving of SHOAR's corruption, works and pomps.

With their retirement, Shoar said it’s time for the changing of the guards at the Sheriff’s Office.

“I grew up with these guys, so it’s like everyone is graduating high school, and I’m still in high school. I truly love both of those guys, and I’m dearly going to miss them,” he said. “The new generation faces tremendous challenges, but I know they’re ready for it.”

It’s time for that next generation to shine, May said. But he said one hard part about leaving is adjusting to a new way of life.

“You get used to getting up, coming and going, and making decisions. Now all of a sudden one day, you’re not,” he said. “I joke to people, saying they’ll find me at Lowes just to be busy and stay around people.”

Bolante said he’s using his retirement to make up for lost time with his family.

“I’ve had success in my career. It came hard and fast, but I missed raising my three kids because of that,” he said. “So I’m making up for that with my grandchildren. I have two granddaughters who remind me what life is really about.”

Comments (2) Add comment
Gatortom64 07/01/15 - 07:51 am 00Thank you for your service
I hope your retirement is as successful as your careers were.

Peter Swanson 07/01/15 - 10:40 am 00Shame
It's a shame that their careers ended at an institution that has revealed itself to be so corrupt, as shown by the national news coverage of the Michelle O'Connell case. Had they spoken out against Sherriff Shoar's shoddy handling of the case, they could have retired with honor instead of odor.

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