Officer wants back on job after feds decline criminal charges
After four years on paid administrative leave, an officer with Fort Myers Police Department is ready to get back on the job.
Jason Jackson is the last of four officers on leave amid a federal investigation into misconduct at the agency that began in 2017.
Captain Melvin Perry, Sergeant Michael Forbes and Sergeant Rick Notaro retired amid the investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Florida notified all of the officers last Friday the investigation had concluded, and none would be prosecuted for crimes at this time.
“Jason Jackson should be back in uniform today. If he’s not, I don’t know what the holdup is. Something needs to be done here,” said Matt Sellers, the president of the Gulf Coast Police Benevolent Association.
In February 2020, Sellers confirmed to WINK News the officers were the target of a federal criminal investigation regarding the murder of a confidential drug informant.
But he said he had first-hand knowledge as a former homicide detective with the agency that there was no way these officers were involved with leaking any information in the case.
Allegations of information leaks and cozy relationships with drug dealers surfaced in a 2017 audit of the agency by the Freeh Group. Shortly after that report was released, the officers were placed on leave.
Jackson’s father, Henry Jackson, was outspoken at city council meetings and in interviews with WINK News that allegations against his son were based on rumors.
“I’m happy and sad at the same time because of what he’s gone through without any evidence,” he said.
Jackson’s father told WINK News Investigative Reporter Lauren Sweeney Monday that his son had not even heard from the police department since being cleared of federal charges.
Sellers says the sergeant at the department who stirred up the allegations in the first place is now off the job.
An internal investigation report obtained through the PBA shows Sgt. Candice Petaccio abruptly resigned in June.
It happened after the department’s inspector general scheduled an interview with Petaccio regarding the allegations against Jackson and others. A transcript shows that she claimed she was instructed by The U.S. Attorney’s Office she could not discuss what she had testified about in front of a Grand Jury.
Inspector Donald Oswald instructed her that he would not be asking her about anything that interfered with the rules of the Grand Jury, and told her she could have the U.S. Attorney and her own attorney present. Petacchio instead abruptly left the interview and then resigned from the agency.
“She’s the one that put these officers under scrutiny, and if you read through the details, she’s the one with the information,” said Sellers.
As of publication, Petacchio had not returned a call from WINK News.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would not comment further about why the criminal investigation had concluded without any charges.
As of publication, Fort Myers Police Department had not responded to WINK News request for an interview.