OCALA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Two majors from the Marion County Sheriff's Office are on paid leave and their arrest powers suspended. The announcement was made by Interim Marion County Sheriff Emery Gainey during a news conference on Monday.
Major Don Maines oversees the Bureau of Professional Standards and Major Tommy Bibb oversees Special Investigations.
Gainey would not say exactly why they are now suspended. "During this process, I may be making some personnel reassignments that are the best steps for the needs of the organization," he said.
Gainey was appointed interim sheriff after Chris Blair was indicted on perjury and misconduct charges related to his testimony in a hearing on deputy conduct.
Blair appointed by majors to their positions three years ago after both retired from the Sheriff's Office in 2011. When asked if their suspensions were related to last week's indictment of Blair, Gainey responded, "That case is being handled by the State Attorney, Mr. King. I am assessing the staff I have here with me and making what I believe are the best decisions, so we can move forward for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office."
Gainey said he has directed employees to cooperate with the State Attorney's Office on the Blair case, but when pressed, he would not link the suspensions of the majors to that case. "I was taking a decision of mine as I came in to do my initial assessment of the organization." He added he would conduct personnel evaluations and more change could be coming.
Blair faces three felony counts. Each count carries up to five years in prison. Court records show the grand jury had been investigating the conduct of Blair's deputies and the possible use of excessive force. Blair had been subpoenaed to testify, and jurors believe that Blair lied when he was questioned about injuries sustained by a suspect.