Springfield mayor under FDLE investigation

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Bay County - News Channel 7 has learned that Springfield Mayor Robert Walker has been the target of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation regarding his use of the city credit card for personal expenses.

The FDLE got involved late last year after the former city clerk filed a complaint against Walker.

Former City Clerk of Springfield, Teresa Cox, filed a complaint against Mayor Walker in December of 2009.

Walker fired Cox after she requested he reimburse the city of Springfield for the more than $2,100 dollars of personal charges he made on the city credit card.

FDLE's investigators found Mayor Walker used the city credit card to pay an $850 dollar personal cell phone bill from 2009. Walker claims the cell phone charge was an accident and his wife used the wrong credit card from his wallet to pay the bill. But he didn't reimburse the city until this year, saying he was waiting on the cell phone company to take the charges off of the city card.

Investigators also discovered Walker failed to pay his city utility bill for 7 months, wracking up $1,600 dollars in charges. Walker says he didn't pay the utility bills because the city owed him money. He claims he loaned the city his personal golf cart, which was damaged beyond use.

"They were using it and they knew it was mine but they basically destroyed it so we were supposed to get it fixed and they never got it fixed so I asked for reimbursement. Well I didn't ask for reimbursement, the public works director using it asked for reimbursement and at that time they were dragging their feet around on it. As a matter of fact I still haven't got reimbursed but I went ahead and paid it because some people started complaining," said Mayor Walker.

Walker claims he and the utilities billing supervisor made an agreement he would pay his bill, once the city paid him for the golf cart damages.

While the FDLE found no criminal wrong-doing, the agency concluded Walker's actions show he may be taking advantage of his elected position and investigators strongly suggest the city improve its business practices.

"We're going to try to find a better way to handle the expenses. You know we've been doing it like this for year. Even before I came in so we haven't changed nothing and maybe it's time to change," added Walker.

Mayor Walker has reimbursed Springfield for about $1,700 dollars worth of other charges that weren't city related.

Although they did not find any criminal wrong-doing, FDLE agents say Walker personally benefited by delaying reimbursing to the city. He did not pay the city back any money until the FDLE got involved.

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