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JSO officer living for free in $500K home owned by JEA

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Updated: 7/29/2013 7:33 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is living free of charge in a home owned by JEA. 

It's a prime piece of real estate overlooking the St. Johns River. A quick search of the property appraiser's website shows there's a backyard pool and even a fireplace.

But the person living there isn't paying rent.

JEA customers are stuck with the bill.

But JEA customers don't get to use the waterfront mansion they helped buy in 2011 for $590,000.

Instead, a JSO police officer, hand-picked by JEA, is living there, free of charge.

JEA spokesperson Gerri Boyce said JEA bought the riverfront property for a water project. After the sale, the needs of the project changed.

"We kept the piece of property to to ensure that if project had a hang up, we could use this piece of property," said Boyce.

Boyce told Action News last week JEA needed security to protect the property while the project was being finished.

Since May 2011, a JSO officer has been living in this half million dollar waterfront home, free of charge.

JEA customers paid $15,000 in utility bills for the last two years.

It's apparently legal. Representatives from JSO, the city ethics, and JEA all confirm this type of arrangement doesn't violate laws or policies. 

A JSO spokeswoman said she wouldn't answer our questions on camera, only by email. Further, the JSO spokeswoman says she can't comment on where an officer lives because of a state law.

She did answer several questions about secondary employment, which is the kind of work officers perform at local banks and supermarkets.

Secondary work is governed by a JSO policy. Basically, it's OK as long as it doesn't create a conflict of interest with their jobs as police officers.

To customers, an officer living in a waterfront mansion for free is a conflict.

"If we're paying rent, they should be paying rent. Bottom line," said Jeramy Ford.

We asked JEA what they thought taxpayers would say about this plan.

"I think they'll be thrilled to know we did a cost analysis and this is the best way, and option for us to maintain the property and saving our customers money," said Boyce.

Per JSO policy, secondary employment is a privilege, not a right. The employee must be in good standing to be eligible for secondary employment jobs. JEA told Action News it is approaching the end of the water project. As soon as it finishes final tests on the system, JEA says the house will go up for sale.

JEA said this is the only property it owns where an officer lives rent free.
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

Papakilo - 7/30/2013 5:58 PM
1 Vote
This entire "project" is a waste of OUR utility money. The JEA is a provider of utilities NOT a real estate agent, or an investment agency for homes. The very idea of OUR utilities fees and taxes being used to pay utilities for any occupant without authorization of us, who are paying JEA, is a crime as far as I am concerned. At the least abuse of our money. And I guess the JEA IS going to refund every cent used to purchase the property and all the utilities WILL be refunded to all the JEA customers. I don't fault the JSO officer but, I do hold the JEA liable and accountable to all its customers. Not to mention all this was behind the backs of all JEA customers. I certainly did not give my consent, and had no prior knowledge of this rip-off.

imtellin - 7/30/2013 7:54 AM
4 Votes
my sentiments exactly ncicok,, at say $12.00 an hour for 12 hours, times 7 days a week times 52 weeks= $52,416 in added income, over 2 years=$104,832.00... we need to inform the I.R.S. as to this evasion of income... cause it's a sure bet the officer failed to disclose the arrangement to them...

Ncicok - 7/30/2013 5:34 AM
3 Votes
Was federal income taxes paid for the compensation?

reston11 - 7/30/2013 4:19 AM
3 Votes
I'm a JEA customer and I'm not "thrilled" by this. This business of buying a mansion on the river for a "project" is baloney. Is there no accountability at JEA?

Terri75 - 7/29/2013 11:25 PM
2 Votes
Keep removing my comments I'll just put share your articles on my Facebook page with my comments!

Terri75 - 7/29/2013 11:22 PM
3 Votes
and since JEA gets their money from us they don't own anything we do

Terri75 - 7/29/2013 11:22 PM
3 Votes
Not only that but for JSO officers to work second jobs they have to pay a percentage to the JSO how much is this officer paying? This is outrageous he should be paying utilities and perhaps a discounted rent or collect NO salary his rent can be his salary we are paying him twice! JEA is crooked and the spokes lady just spins and spins...

yokokid - 7/29/2013 11:10 PM
4 Votes
Outrageous! The JEA representative says they did analysis and it was cost beneficial for taxpayers to foot the bill. Not paying rent is one thing, but not paying utilities is unethically criminal to the people of Jacksonville. Just because it is legal, doesn't make it right. And for her to say something like that makes it even more unbelievable. Meanwhile everyone else has to deal with the unexplained 50-100% price increase over the last 5 years.
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