School security guard arrested for cocaine possession
MIDDLEBURG – A Clay County District Schools employee has been charged with possession of cocaine following a Clay County Sheriff’s Office investigation.
Douglas Charles Batchelder, a guardian with Clay County District Schools, was arrested by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office after detectives received information he was involved in the use of illegal narcotics. Working jointly with the Clay County District Schools Police Department, detectives responded to Middleburg High on Nov. 15 and met with CCDSPD Chief Kenneth Wagner and Batchelder.
While there, a CCSO K9 alerted to Batchelder’s vehicle for the presence of an illegal drug. Detectives found a brown wallet in the driver’s side door that contained a white substance that field-tested positive as cocaine. Batchelder admitted to ownership of the cocaine discovered inside his vehicle and completed a sworn written statement.
The guardian program was established in 2018 following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School. Guardians assist deputized officers. They are highly trained to respond immediately in the event of a school shooting.
CCSO deputies arrested Batchelder, and he was transported to the Clay County Jail.
CCSO deputy fired for turning in fake timesheets
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A 26-year veteran of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office was fired and arrested for organized fraud on Dec. 10.
Sheriff Michelle Cook said Timothy James Bell cashed a check of more than $1,350 after fraudulently turning in hours from secondary jobs hired through the sheriff’s office. CCSO said it has surveillance of Bell either leaving early or not showing up for his part-time assignments, although he electronically submitted hours to the agency.
Deputies are offered an opportunity to do part-time work through CCSO, primarily for security and property checks. Bell turned in hours for work at the Clay County Utility Authority on Nov. 7 and 16, Duval Asphalt on Nov. 10 and 21, and Fleming Island Plantation on Nov.15. He also turned in hours for simultaneous work at Duval Asphalt and Fleming Island Plantation, although they are more than 10 miles apart from each other.
“This is why it’s so important to hold those responsible,” Cook said. “None of us want our badges tarnished.”
“As disappointed as I am in Bell's actions which lead to his arrest, I'm just as proud to say that the information about his illegal activity also came from agency employees. These employees who understand the importance of honesty and integrity. It is important to hold those who stray from our oath accountable, to maintain the trust of the public we serve.”
CCSO said the investigation into Bell is ongoing. The former deputy was released from the Clay County Jail on his own recognizance.
Social media post puts spotlight on school police officer
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Clay County Sheriff’s Office denied it ignored a claim by a resident that a Clay County School District Police Officer sent inappropriate test messages and was involved in chats to a 14-year-old girl.
Nathan Waits, who’s the president of a group that chats with men while pretending to be children. Waits posted a confrontation with the officer at his school on Facebook. Waits also said he notified the sheriff’s office about the messages in October ago.
Sheriff Michelle Cook said a departmental investigation revealed the man mistakenly sent a test message to a landline number at the agency. Landlines generally don’t accept text messages.
The school officer has been placed on leave, according to the school district.
“The Clay County District Schools Police Department is aware of the allegations made on social media posted by a citizen on December 8, 2020. The Clay County District Schools Police Department Officer referenced in the post has been placed on administrative leave indefinitely pending the results of an internal investigation by the Clay County District Schools Police Department and an outside investigation by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office,” said district spokesperson Nicole Young.
Waits said he has transcripts of the chats, including an apparent conversation asking the girl about sexy bikini photos.
The district’s police chief angrily defended CCSO and said his department takes all allegations seriously.
“That law enforcement agency [CCSO] is an outstanding agency with many highly qualified individuals with the highest levels of integrity and a strong commitment to always doing the right thing, even when no one is looking,” Kenneth Wagner posted on Facebook. “They serve with honor, pride and compassion. I am proud to say I worked at that agency for over 20 years. They would never fail to respond to a complaint, such as the incident posted on social media.
“The agency I lead [CCSDPD] at this moment in time has all of the same traits and a compassion and dedication to their duties. They nor I would fail to respond to a complaint. Mischaracterization, statements, or information on social media has created a firestorm of people from all across the country to reach out to me and people with whom I serve with via phone and social media with baseless allegations, being vile, vulgar and evil.”
Cook said her department is investigating the case.
Man finally caught following rash of March car break-ins
OAKLEAF – A 24-year-old man was in the Clay County Jail following a string of at least five car break-ins in March, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Kenneth Charles Nettles, of Orange Park, was charged with five counts of burglary on Dec. 11 following an investigation by the CCSO auto crimes unit.
According to the arrest reports, several residents their cars were broken into during the early morning hours of March 13. Detectives met with Nettles in Jacksonville, and he turned himself at the Orange Park substation.
His bond was set at $25,015.
Women arrested for reselling stolen handbags on internet
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A woman was arrested for stealing handbags from a local store and reselling them on the internet, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Lori Ann Cocciolo, 53, of Green Cove Springs, was charged on Dec. 10 with grand theft of items $5,000-$9,999 and dealing in stolen property on the internet.
According to the arrest report, Cocciolo was investigated after several handbags were stolen. Deputies recovered many of the bags at her residence. The investigation then revealed Cocciolo was selling the bags on Poshmark.
Her bond was set at $35,006.
Wanted man back in Clay after being caught in Baker County
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A man wanted in Clay County for hit and run with injuries and property damage was caught in Baker County and transported back to Clay to face charges.
Royce Morris Jr., 39, of Jacksonville, was wanted since April 24, 2019, following an accident at Filmore Street and Moody Ave. He arrived at the Clay County Jail on Dec. 10.
According to the arrest warrant, Morris was driving on Filmore and he made a left turn onto Moody without stopping at the sign. A car travelling on Moody collided with Morris’ car. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office learned Morris also was wanted in Jacksonville on a felony warrant for fleeing from Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Morris’ bond was set at $35,007.
CCSO capture wanted man during traffic stop for running red light
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A man wanted in Jacksonville was caught by a Clay County Sheriff’s Office deputy on U.S. Highway 17 during a traffic stop.
Bryant K. Walker, 33, was a passenger in the car that reportedly ran a red light, according to the arrest report. Deputies were alerted Walker has been wanted since Nov. 2 for armed burglary, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Walker was held in the Clay County Jail without bond while he waits to be transported to Duval County.