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Two Bay County officials arrested as part of ongoing public corruption investigation

From L to R: Crystal Owens, Ross Pritchard
From L to R: Crystal Owens, Ross Pritchard(Bay County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 1:47 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Two Bay County officials are facing charges in connection with an ongoing investigation into public corruption by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office’s Public Corruption Unit and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Bay County Sheriff’s Deputies say they were working on another investigation when they learned Ross Pritchard, deputy building official and a licensed contractor and owner of RP Builders, as well as a building inspector for the county, had conducted inspections of work completed by his own construction company. They say he also changed public records after the fact to hide his actions and remove his company name from the record.

They say they also learned Crystal Owens altered an official public record, a Bay County Building Permit, to reflect a different contractor as the contractor of record on that permit. They say she changed the name from Banfield Construction to RP Builders. They say Banfield Construction, due to the suspicious nature in which they got their licensure in Calhoun County, had been prevented from working in Bay County.

Investigators say when Owens changed the permit from Banfield, a personal friend of hers, it covered up what amounted to unlicensed contracting in Bay County.

Owens reportedly admitted she completed the paperwork on an inspection for Banfield Construction when she was never at the home and did not complete the inspection, saying she did it because Banfield was a friend of hers.

Pritchard and Owens will be on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of the case.

“We appreciate the work of the Sheriff’s Department,” Bay County Manager Bob Majka said. “Transparent, open, and honest government remain our priority.”

Pritchard and Owens were arrested Thursday and both are charged with official misconduct.the

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