Fired chief's mistress Melissa Hardwick says City Commissioner Bill Keel tried to quiet her

8:53 PM, Jan 29, 2014   |    comments
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Plant City, FL -- There was new political development in the firing of Plant City's Police Chief Steve Singletary.

Singletary was let go Jan. 28 after an investigation found he'd violated city policies in the course of an extramarital affair.

As Plant City officials try to move forward, none of the parties involved seemed interested in speaking any further about the City's decision.

Courtney Singletary, Steve's wife, made that clear today.

"You're not welcome here. Get off my property," she said when we went to the couple's home to see if they had anything to say about City Manager Greg Horwedel's decision to fire Singletary.

Mrs. Singletary had called her husband's infidelity immoral but not illegal in a recent Facebook post. Her husband, the now former chief, had made a similar statement to investigators.

"Clearly, I made a mistake, but it was my in private life I made a mistake," he told them.

At the home of Melissa Hardwick, the woman with whom Singletary had the affair, there were brand new "no trespassing" signs posted urging people, including the press, to stay away.

But something Hardwick had said in her statement to investigators was raising new questions regarding City Commissioner Bill Keel.

"He's friends with Steve," she told officials.

"Do you know anything else about Bill Keel?" they asked.

"That he's a city commissioner," she answered.

Hardwick said through texting a mutual friend, Plant City Commissioner Billy Keel had tried to influence her not to report Singletary.

She said he knew it would likely cost his friend, the chief, his job.

"It made me mad," said Hardwick.

"Why?"

"Because he was also saying he was concerned about me. And the only reason that was being said was because he wanted me not to speak to anyone," she said.

At Keel's office, a receptionist told us, "He's not here and we won't be here the rest of the day," although she acknowledged Keel's car was parked outside.

Keel later emailed a statement saying, in part, he was, "[...] not in any way involved in the investigation."

Keel also wrote that he hoped the parties could "[...] find closure and move on. In my opinion, it's now time for the city to move forward as well".

The city manager told Keel his name had come up during the investigation, but since he was not the focus of the complaint his alleged attempt to influence Hardwick was not deemed relevant to the investigation.


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