Last week, the Dayton News and Cleveland Advocate newspapers printed revelations that Sheriff Henry Patterson and District Attorney Mike Little were confronted with complaints about Phil Fitzgerald’s FEMA fraud long before the public had been told they knew about it. Sheriff Patterson has now confirmed via a letter to the editor that he did have a meeting in late January or early February of 2009 with Constable Royce Wheeler, his deputy Chip Fairchild and other members of his staff, District Attorney Mike Little.
Not surprising for those who know what a hands off, “it’s somebody else fault” kind of Sheriff Patterson has been, Henry Patterson sounds a great deal like Mike Little when he defends himself after the facts came out this week. He does however admit that during the first meeting with Constable Wheeler and Deputy Fairchild allegations of misconduct were made against Judge Fitzgerald that had to do with FEMA fraud and the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Patterson and Little have never admitted that before.
Perhaps to save himself and the D.A. embarrassment, or maybe to avoid being charged with a crime, Patterson spends no time expressing regret that he did not catch Fitzgerald early on which would have potentially saved the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on complicated and lengthy trials and even more money on huge contracts that Fitzgerald, his brother-in-law, and a friend benefited from. Mike Little continues to have much the same attitude as he expresses no regret that he never pursued charges against Fitzgerald even after the feds uncovered plenty of evidence to go to trial with.
Instead of regret, Patterson takes a bizarre tack and wants to “kill the messengers”- Constable Wheeler and his own deputy, Chip Fairchild. At the time Patterson thought Fairchild was trying to trick him. We know that for a fact because Patterson expressed it to LD at the time. Patterson was paranoid about Fairchild and wanted to fire him, but did not want to get sued for wrongful termination. Patterson thought Fairchild was trying to sucker him into some kind of investigation that would embarrass him and that Fairchild wanted “to throw him under the bus for defeating his friend”, former Sheriff Greg Arthur. Rather than admit the fears that dominated his thinking at the time, when confronted by news stories that show he and Little blew a great opportunity, Patterson says these lawmen that are lower in rank had the power and duty to arrest the chief executive officer of the county without consulting Little or Patterson. He wants us to ignore what could be the mother of all selective prosecution cases and accept his reasoning that if any officer has probable cause that an individual is violating the law, they can ignore the fact the District Attorney and the County Sheriff tell to leave this case alone.
Patterson now claims he assigned Fairchild and another deputy the task of locating evidence in support of the claims he and Wheeler had made. But we know for a fact at that time Patterson was way more interested in “getting rid of Fairchild”.
Now that a letter has surfaced removing all doubt that Patterson and Little knew early on exactly what The Cleveland Advocate and The Dayton News said they knew, Patterson is spinning a tale that the letter the feds have doesn’t show his and Little’s incompetence or selective prosecution or partnership with Fitzgerald, it is simply verifies the poor investigation by Wheeler and Fairchild and that they had nothing to worry about from their testimony. What! Why in the name of justice and the rule of law would a D.A. and a sheriff want to give solace to Fitzgerald or his attorney as the FEMA fraud case moved towards trial? Looking back, the same two men who made officials feel that they should not pursue this case under the guise that it was not a case, later on are the same people who do nothing to pursue the truth and justice when the FEMA questions are compounded by all of the other good ole boy stuff.
Up until now, Henry Patterson’s name is rarely if ever mentioned when the most infamous fraud case in county history is talked about. Now Patterson is making a rare public statement in the form of his letter to the editor in what can only be called a weak attempt to appear innocent because of his ignorance. In light of what we know about the FEMA case and what we know about over three years of Patterson wearing the Liberty County sheriff star, ignorance and disinterest may be his best and most believable defense.
Henry Patterson reminds me of Sergeant Schultz on the old television series Hogan’s Heroes. If you remember that character, next time you see Henry Patterson ask him to say, “I know nothing” and visualize him in a World War II German soldier uniform. That is our sheriff. That is his defense for being right next to the theft of hundreds of guns out of the Cleveland Police Department’s evidence room and that is his excuse when presented with the opportunity to shut Fitzgerald down early in his FEMA escapades.
Lastly what may be the most bizarre of all of Sheriff Henry Patterson’s behavior in the past several years is his now infamous public chatter which includes:
1.“I didn’t know nothing”;
2.“It was someone else”;
3.“I had a key to the property room where the guns were too, but it was Harry Kelly who took them”;
4.“Its Royce Wheeler and Chip Fairchild’s fault”;
5.“It was Mike Little who decided not to pursue the charges, not me… it’s his fault”.
What kind of Looney excuses will you come up with next Sheriff Henry Patterson?