Wednesday, December 06, 2023

SAB Ex-Commissioner ERNESTO JUAN TORRES SETTLES ETHICS CASE: $4000, Censure and Reprimand

Thanks again to St. Augustine Beach Police for reporting ex-Commissioner ERNESTO JUAN TORRES' unethical conduct -- dozens of phone calls pressuring St. Augustine Beach Police to fix his then-wife's DUI case.  The settlement recommends a $4000 civil penalty, public censure and reprimand by the Governor.  A 2022 probable cause finding by the Florida Ethics Commission found TORRES violated the Florida Constitution.

From Florida Ethics Commission press release on December 1, 2023 meeting:

The Commission adopted a settlement agreement between former St. Augustine Beach Commissioner, ERNESTO TORRES and the Commission Advocate. The agreement finds Mr. Torres violated the constitutional amendment prohibiting abuse of office to obtain a disproportionate benefit and misused his public position for his and his wife's benefit when he interfered with a DUI traffic stop involving his wife. The Commission recommended a total civil penalty of $4,000 and public censure and reprimand for imposition by the Governor 

From this blog from 2022:

Monday, September 19, 2022

Ethics commission advances investigation of former St. Augustine Beach commissioner. (SAR)

Hearing nothing on this case, wrote to the Ethics Commission in August.  The Ethics Commission falsely responded that it had no records. I sent them a copy of the complaint.  Now, this

From St. Augustine Record:

Ethics commission advances investigation of former St. Augustine Beach commissioner

The St. Augustine Record
The St. Augustine Record
 4 hours ago

A Florida Commission on Ethics investigation into the actions of a former St. Augustine Beach commissioner is moving forward. 

St. Augustine Beach Commissioner Ernesto Torres resigned after a police report alleged that he berated and tried to use his elected position to gain favor with local officers during his wife's Jan. 22 DUI arrest.

Elected officials who have resigned are still subject to review and disciplinary action, Commission on Ethics spokeswoman Lynn Blais said. Those penalties could range from public censure to a fine of up to $10,000 per allegation, she said.

St. Augustine Beach police chief:Ernesto Torres called him 29 times after wife's arrest

According to a press release, the Commission found probable cause to believe that Torres "violated the constitutional amendment prohibiting abuse of office to obtain a disproportionate benefit, solicited a favor from law enforcement with the understanding his official action or judgment would be influenced, and attempted to use his public position for his and his wife's personal benefit when he interfered with a DUI traffic stop involving his wife."

Blais said now the process moves to determine whether Torres actually violated the law and, if so, what penalty would be recommended.

Local government:St. Augustine commissioners pass rate, fee increases, refer to Jackson water crisis

The case will either go to a full evidentiary hearing, or Torres and an advocate for the ethics commission could reach an agreement. An agreement would spell out what violations occurred and what the penalty should be, such as a fine, Blais said. 

An agreement would come back to the ethics commission for consideration. If the ethics commission agrees to it, the agreement would go to the governor for approval. 

When he resigned after the incident, Torres said he wanted to spend more time with family. He did not return messages seeking comment.


Anonymous said...

Honestly goes to show you who holds the power in St. John's County. It's the cops, the courts, and then the commission in that order. I'd go even further to suggest that there's no other real power in the county outside of those three things really. The REC bobbleheads and all their meetings are really meaningless and obviously regular citizens don't have an ounce of power unless they can meaningfully influence those three institutions. As for Torres, just wrong order of march. Should have been divorce old lady and keep job... and not lose job then divorce old lady.👎

Anonymous said...

A censure from the likes of Ron DeSanctimonious would be worse than the $4,000 fine. The guy has done nothing. At least riding around with drunk old lady is something.. but Ron DeSanctimonious has done absolutely nothing. Ron should be fined for derelict.

Anonymous said...

Well now he can ride around drunk with failed former commissioner Bill McClure AkA Billy the Bamboozler. Billy the Booze Cruiser. Yeah take a ride on Billy the Bamboozler's Booze Cruiser. Non-ADA compliant Mercedes Benz 😆