The FBI says it is assisting with a criminal investigation into possible theft of money within the Bradenton Police Department.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is assisting the Bradenton Police Department (BPD) in an investigation of potential internal departmental theft,” FBI spokeswoman Amy B. Pittman said in news release. “BPD requested the assistance of the FBI early on in their criminal investigation.”
The investigation became public on Sept. 15 during a Bradenton mayoral debate between Mayor Wayne Poston and challengers Warren Merriman and Eleuterio Salazar.
Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan last week issued a statement in response to the investigation being brought up at the debate by Merriman, who was fired from his position as deputy police chief in January 2015.
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“Recent inaccurate and irresponsible verbal and written comments presented by candidates seeking political office in Bradenton are fueling numerous inquiries into what I am making clear today is an ongoing active criminal investigation,” Bevan wrote. “These individuals’ comments also call into question the integrity and ethics of the Bradenton Police Department by casting doubt on our ability to effectively identify and investigate incidents of criminal misconduct.”
Last Wednesday, Merriman said he believes there is a “transparency issue regarding the city of Bradenton Police Department.”
“Approximately 150 days ago, Chief Bevan informed elected city officials that there was an investigation but she failed to disclose that to the general public which I find concerning in regards to the accreditation lapse never being publicly disclosed,” he said.
Since this is now an active FBI investigation, Pittman said the agency will have no further comment.
Jessica De Leon contributed to this report.