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FDLE criminal probe of Starke Police: Guns, money, drugs among 2,500 pieces of missing evidence

STARKE, Fla. — Action News Jax’s Ben Becker is getting answers about a Northeast Florida police department now under a state criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith informed Starke city leaders at a commission meeting on Tuesday night that FDLE told him there are more than 2,500 pieces of evidence that are unaccounted for over 14 years from 2010 to 2024 including guns, money and drugs.

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FDLE inventoried the evidence in February before the Starke Police Department was disbanded and transferred to the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office in March.

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Becker asked Smith about what was discovered.

Becker: “Would you say the Starke Police Department was a mess?”

Smith: “It was in disarray. Some of that had to do with the time frame of us taking it over for them to finish up, but there was a lot of things, inventory, that type of stuff, had not been done in some period of time.”

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Action News Jax reported last week the city manager sent a 104-page memo to commissioners that detailed the conditions at the police department. This includes bags of sealed evidence not secured in evidence lockers, plus loose ammo in boxes as well as bullets in the back of police cruisers, and uniforms that were not secured and just thrown into a room.

Former Starke Police Chief Jeff Johnson resigned in March. Smith said the FDLE investigation could take six months.

Separately, FDLE confirmed it raided City Hall on Feb. 27. An FDLE spokesperson said it is an active investigation but Action News Jax has learned it was an election issue related to former City Clerk Jimmy Crosby who resigned on March 5.

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