Fallout from affair leads to firing of Plant City police chief

January 29, 2014 

PLANT CITY -- Plant City officials announced the firing of Police Chief Steven Singletary during a press conference Tuesday.

Investigators said Singletary, who had been on paid administrative leave, was accused of having an affair with a married woman. They said that in a videotaped sworn interview, he lied under oath about having sex with the woman in an Orlando hotel room that the city paid for.

However, investigators said the woman, Melissa Hardwick, told investigators the opposite, and that they believe her.

According to the investigative report, Singletary traveled to Orlando on Jan. 12 in a city-owned vehicle to attend a Florida Police Chiefs conference. Hardwick said Singletary told her not to talk about the sex in the hotel room.

"He said not to speak to anyone and to make sure that I said if I did tell anyone that I didn't stay in the room," she said.

Investigators said it was Hardwick's husband, Jason, who busted the chief at an Orlando restaurant. Jason Hardwick took two photos, and in one of them, Singletary tries to hide his face.

Jason Hardwick told investigators he gave Singletary an option that he refused to take.

"He said, 'You want me to resign,' and I said, 'No, I don't want you to resign,'" he said."I said, 'I want you to resign and I want you to leave this town.'"

Singletary told investigators his take on their interaction.

"He told me I needed to resign or he was going to get my job and I told him it didn't have anything to do with my job," he said.

Investigators determined Singletary and Hardwick had conducted a three-year sexual affair where they'd meet on city and private property.

The city manager said he fired the police chief for violating department policies that deal with making false statements, improper use of sick time and trying to get a complaint withdrawn.

“I want to emphasize at this point that Mr. Singletary was not terminated solely because he had an extramarital affair,” City Manager Greg Horwedel said. “The most important issues for me was Mr. Singletary’s actions related to the code of conduct specifically those items outlined above that were sustained violations.”

Singletary's termination is effective Wednesday. He has 30 days to appeal.

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