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Files: Ex-chief upset, angry over arrest

Orlando Sentinel (Florida), LOCAL & BUSINESS; FLORIDA; Windermere scandal; Pg. B1
BYLINE: Henry Pierson Curtis, staff writer

Windermere, FL

Former Windermere police Chief Daniel Saylor reacted with dismay and anger at his arrest on corruption charges in January, according to records released Wednesday by the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office.

"Take the firearm. I'm not going to resist any of you guys," Saylor told Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents Jan. 12 just after his arrest on two felony charges. "Jesus. I've been a cop too long for this ... " During that conversation, Saylor maintained his innocence.

"Well, Chief, we know a lot of things," said one unidentified speaker during the interview. "We know a lot of things that you don't think we know."

In the post-arrest interview, Saylor said he accepted a $1,000 cash gift last year but denied that it was a bribe from one of his officers seeking to have a friend hired by the Windermere Police Department. "I'm not allowed to accept a Christmas gift from my officers?" Saylor asked the agents. "That was it."

The nearly 1,000 pages of records include new allegations of misconduct, including the recovery of a diamond tennis bracelet stolen from police evidence.

The disclosures came the same week that the FDLE opened a new offshoot of its corruption investigation. That probe is looking into why Saylor failed to take action when DNA testing identified a suspect in a 2004 home invasion and attempted kidnapping.

On Monday, Windermere police arrested the home-invasion suspect using evidence given to Saylor three years ago by FDLE's Orlando crime lab, records show.

"There's a fine line between bad and even terrible police work and something that's criminal," said FDLE assistant agent-in-charge Danny Banks. "There's enough smoke on this one to where we have to investigate whether a crime was committed."

The corruption investigation will continue to expand if the FDLE receives more credible accusations of criminal behavior, Banks said Wednesday afternoon.

The corruption investigation began last summer.

That's when Carl Head, a former Windermere police officer, gave the FDLE records of a 2009 rape investigation which he said Saylor shut down as a favor to Windermere resident Scott Bush, his friend and the only suspect in the case.

On Jan. 12, Saylor, 44, and Bush, 50, were arrested by the FDLE.

Saylor's truthfulness has been at issue since the FDLE released transcripts of secretly recorded conversations in which he told a subordinate to destroy the rape-investigation records.

In a post-arrest interview, Saylor told FDLE agents there was nothing improper about his friendship with Bush. "I used to ride Harleys with him; I'm friends with most of my residents. But I tried to stay out of this completely. I don't want -- I hate pedophiles. I can't -- my worst pet peeves are liars and pedophiles. Anybody will tell you that about me."

Questioned about missing files concerning Bush, Saylor described himself as a victim of subordinates.

"I should have been a stronger chief, and I should have made sure they did this right and things were filed properly," he told FDLE agent Jeffrey Duncan, head of the corruption investigation. "But I didn't do anything illegal."

After Saylor's arrest, an inventory of the Police Department's evidence locker found that 20 seized guns were missing as well drugs and more than $3,000 in cash. The newly released records indicate a 3-carat diamond tennis bracelet worth $2,500 disappeared after being tagged, placed in an evidence bag and dropped through a slot into the evidence room.

Former Windermere Officer Joseph Farias-Rios, who said he had been in charge of the evidence room, said Saylor late brought him a diamond tennis bracelet, saying a subordinate had taken it by sliding an arm through the evidence-room slot.

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