Florida Gov. Rick Scott has suspended a DeLand city commissioner arrested by state agents on drug-related charges June 27, his office said Friday afternoon.
The governor issued an executive ordersuspending Commissioner Jeff Hunter, after Hunter was charged with selling hydrocodone, a Schedule II controlled substance.
“Jeffrey Hunter is prohibited from performing any official act, duty, or function of public office; from receiving any pay or allowance; and from being entitled to any of the emoluments or privileges of public office during the period of this suspension,” part of the order reads.
Florida law gives Scott the discretion to suspend municipal officials accused of crimes, and to remove them from office if convicted.
The remaining four DeLand city commissioners will appoint a fifth member to the empty seat. If Hunter is found not guilty before his term ends in November 2020, the law provides that he would be reinstated.
DeLand City Manager Michael Pleus said the commissioners will discuss the matter at their Monday, July 16 meeting.
Hunter was charged with sale or delivery of hydrocodone — an opioid painkiller — after a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation.
The State Attorney’s Office formally filed the charge June 28. Hunter said the charges were fabricated by a woman he dated briefly in 2017.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge and was released from jail hours after his June 27 arrest, on $25,000 bail.
According to a charging affidavit, investigators found more than 120 voicemail messages from Hunter on the phone of the woman he had dated. In several of the messages, Hunter seemed to either offer her pills, or acknowledge giving her some earlier.
In a few of the messages, Hunter accused the woman of stealing the pills from him.
The investigation into Hunter was started and the messages were discovered after Hunter told detectives from the Sheriff’s Office in October 2017 that he had been defrauded by the 24-year-old DeLand woman.
Her boyfriend, Jose Santiago, was arrested in December 2017 on extortion charges, after he allegedly demanded money from the commissioner under threat of giving police evidence against Hunter. Santiago’s case is still pending.
Hunter has previously said the current charge against him is the woman’s attempt to get back at him for having Santiago arrested.