Delaware County Sheriff Walter Davis announced Monday that he was resigning from office, less than one week after a 10 Investigates report aired that said he used county money for an out-of-state rendezvous with a female sheriff's deputy.
Delaware County Sheriff's Capt. Scott Vance was appointed interim sheriff by the county's commissioners, hours after the announcement, 10TV News reported.
Along with his resignation, Davis withdrew his name from the November ballot. He was unopposed for re-election. Late last week, the Delaware County Republican Central Committee voted to rescind its endorsement of Davis.
Union County prosecutor David Phillips, who was appointed to serve as special prosecutor by Delaware County Judge Everett Krueger, first announced Davis' resignation. According to Phillips' office, he was contacted by Columbus attorney Larry James, who represented Davis. Phillips met with James and came up with a resolution that was described "as being in the best interest of the county."
Phillips said he agreed to defer prosecution against Davis as long as he remains in compliance with his agreement to not seek elected office again. A planned BCI investigation also was halted.
Davis said that an investigation would speak for itself.
“Let the Bureau of Criminal Investigation do an investigation,” Davis said. “It’ll speak for itself, and it’ll clearly show we didn’t do anything wrong.”
Phillips said that it was Davis’ attorney who initiated talks to cut a deal, 10TV’s Glenn McEntyre reported.
“To suggest that nothing was done wrong, I think that’s an overstatement,” Phillips said. “As to whether or not it rose to the level of crime, I can’t say without a complete investigation.”
Phillips said that it appeared that some money was spent for an “inappropriate purpose.”
“It doesn’t necessarily mean there would have been a criminal prosecution, but there could have been, had that investigation proven out,” Phillips said.
According to Phillips, an investigation would have taken several months. He said it was in the best interest of the public to end the turmoil surrounding the accusations.
The 10 Investigates report that aired on Tuesday uncovered information that Davis misused taxpayer dollars to cover expenses for an August 2011 FBI training trip to Quantico, Va. Davis allegedly rented a car and shared a meal with Deputy Janine Senanayake at taxpayers' expense.
One month later, he issued a news release that said the FBI paid for all travel, lodging and meals.
aOn Monday, Davis admitted he shared a meal with someone but would not identify whom he was with.
"It doesn't pertain to my job," Davis said. I think that's my private life and will stay just that."
Davis said on Monday that he took full responsibility for his actions and said he would repay the county the money at issue, which was about $1,300 along with audits that were required.
"The office has come under a tremendous amount of negative scrutiny that I don't think the taxpayers of Delaware County deserve," Davis said. "I don't want there to be any question about our integrity. It was never my intention to misuse or misappropriate any funds."
Davis said that he receives a pension and has no need to steal or take money from the sheriff's office.
He added that if the 10 Investigates story had not broken that he would have remained the sheriff.
Sheila Hundley, a Delaware County resident, said that she and her husband, Sam, were following the developments with Davis since 10 Investigates first reported the story last week.
"(Davis) ripped us off in so many words," Sheila Hundley said.
"I really think that the deputy that he's involved with really should be penalized, too," Sam Hundley said.
No one answered the door at Senanayake's Delaware apartment on Monday but the possibility that Davis might have used county money to stay in a hotel with her was upsetting for the Hundleys.
"I don't have the money to go stay in a hotel room," Sheila Hundley said. "It's kind of nice if the taxpayers give me money so I can go have fun for a weekend."
Charles Warner, another Delaware County resident, said that Davis' alleged actions shook the community's trust.
"It is upsetting," Warner said. "I think that people that are in the public office should hold that as high regard and they have a responsibility to the community and the people to do their upmost best."
The Delaware County Republican Central Committee will make an appointment to fill the balance of Davis' term and come up with a replacement candidate for the November election.
Vance joined the Delaware County Sheriff's Office in 1995. He was promoted to Captain in 2003.
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