Live Oak Mayor Sonny Nobles Jr. and city councilman Adam Prins have made it clear they don’t support each other.
When the mayor filed a complaint about Prins to the State of Florida Commission on Ethics on July 19, 2013, he wanted something to be done.
The commission had a meeting on Oct. 24 to discuss the complaint that was issued, make a ruling and finally put an end to the legal dispute between the two officials.
“Councilman Prins and I have been at odds for over four years now,” Nobles said.
Nobles didn’t know who Prins was before the election, but it was apparent the councilman didn’t like him from the start. When Nobles discovered Prins was making threats toward him and abusing his position as a councilman, he decided to file a complaint.
“I’ve been an elected official for 38 years in the city of Live Oak — 26 years as a councilman and then the past 12 years as mayor — and never had any problems with any of the councilmen,” he said.
Nobles brought forward nine allegations against Prins, including the misuse of a public position.
In one of the instances stated in the complaint, Prins ordered Live Oak Fire Chief Chad Croft to drive him to his sister’s apartment and help him move things during a flood for personal reasons, despite a pre-existing injury to Croft’s shoulder.
Croft said he didn’t think it was ethical of Prins to make those orders, and he was asked by Nobles to write a statement to send to the commission.
“Everybody’s definition of corrupt is different,” he said.
The meeting on Oct. 24 concluded there was not sufficient probable cause found in eight of the nine allegations. However, the commission determined that he had misused his position as a city councilman.
“While it was a tedious and lengthy process, I was never really worried about it because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Prins said. “I’ve spent the last almost two years of my life going through an unnecessary investigative process, being put in the newspaper and made out to be guilty when I wasn’t guilty of anything.”
Prins had been previously suspended from his job at the sheriff’s department pending an investigation on the threats to the mayor. Nobles said the investigation determined the threats were not considered a criminal offense.
The meeting came as a surprise to Nobles because he hadn’t heard anything on the case for some time.
“That was fine with me because he’s no longer on the council,” he said.
In May, Prins decided not to seek re-election.
“Unfortunately, out of this, I made the decision not to run again, and the mayor is back in office,” he said. “I’m certain that I will probably run again.”
With the lengthy legal process is over, everyone involved can breathe a sigh of relief.
“I’m glad it’s over with — it was kind of a long drawn-out thing,” Croft said. “It’s like you forget who’s on trial.”