DAVENPORT, Fla. (WFLA) – City Commissioners are calling on the governor to suspend their mayor after her arrest on felony charges.
City Commissioners acted quickly and called a special meeting Thursday to find out what they can legally do amid the accusations.
“I think it’s best that we move quickly and not let this sit because she was our mayor. She is a part of our commission and we have to have someone there to fill her spot or someone that can work with the commission. I don’t think it’s better for us to wait. We need someone in the spot. We have to make that decision,” Davenport City Commissioner Bob Lynch told News Channel 8.
The mayor of Davenport was arrested after deputies say she was discovered using deceased persons’ handicapped parking placards.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies began investigating last month after receiving a tip that Davenport Mayor Teresa Bradley, 60, was parking in handicapped spots at city hall, but she was not handicapped and did not have a handicapped placard issued to her.
Deputies say they saw her park in one of the handicapped spots. She placed a handicapped placard on her mirror before getting out of her car and then removed the placard when she got back in the car.
Deputies served a search warrant at her home and say they found two handicapped placards issued to two different people.
One placard had been issued to Evelyn Klinger Letterman of Davenport, who died in August of 2012. The handicapped parking placard had an expiration date of 10-30-2013, however the date displayed on the placard that the mayor had been using was altered and had an expiration date of October 2018.
The second placard that the mayor had been using was issued to a person who died in 2015.
“We expect our elected officials to set the proper example. She not only violated the law, she embarrassed the citizens of Davenport with her illegal conduct,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Deputies say they also have photos and video of Mayor Bradley using the handicapped placards.
She was arrested on charges of Criminal Use of a Deceased Person’s ID, Possession of an Altered/Counterfeit Decal, and Unlawful Use of a Handicapped Placard.
“Our charter basically says only if there is a conviction. So at this point, she’s just been charged,” City Manager Kelly Callihan told WFLA.
Callihan told News Channel 8 he has seen Bradley using handicapped spaces and just assumed she was disabled.
“I never questioned why,” he said.
He said the accusations are troubling.
“Anytime anything like this happens, somebody is accused of something, or whatever, especially a public official, it’s not good for the city, and it kind of gives the city a black eye. We certainly hate that it happened,” he said.
Two former City Commissioners stood up during public comment at the meeting to call for Bradley’s suspension, including Deborah Burress.
“I was commissioner for two years. She pulled a lot of stuff and I complained and it got pushed under the rug. I’m just not surprised. It’s time she got caught,” Burress said. “We don’t need people like her in this town. She made Davenport the laughingstock of Polk County.”
Mayor Bradley did not show up to the meeting.
Attorney Rafael Echemendia sent a statement to the Vice Mayor about Bradley’s actions.
“She was previously the victim of a violent carjacking and continues to feel extremely unsafe after dark and acknowledges that she parks as close to the door as possible at night for safety concerns,” her attorney wrote.
Sheriff Grady Judd said his agency is looking into these claims.
“It’s painfully obvious to all of us and the residents of Davenport that she abused her authority, and abused the trust,” he said, “She embarrassed the City of Davenport. She committed a felony and did it at City Hall. I think it’s arrogance. She thinks she’s above the law.”
“I don’t think it’s legit. I really don’t. She’s arrogant and she thinks she can, she’s above the law just like Grady said,” Burress said.
The mayor was booked into the Polk County Jail and released after posting $2,250 bond.
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