Hampton, Fla., home to a whopping 477 residents, might be the most corrupt city in the most corrupt state in America.
Hampton is so dirty it’s in danger of being wiped off the map completely. State lawmakers are seeking to dissolve the one-square-mile city after an audit found serious corruption, The Gainesville Sun reports. The city is also a notorious speed trap.
The tiny city has caught the attention of CNN, which published a detailed explainer about the corruption, and was mocked by Gawker after Hampton’s mayor was arrested for allegedly using and selling the painkller Oxycodone.
Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith told The Sun the corruption in Hampton “makes Chicago and Al Capone look like they were a group of Cub Scouts.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has opened a criminal investigation that focuses on actions of the city’s clerk, maintenance officer, and its police chief, according to The New York Times.
Here’s what’s allegedly going on in the city to make it so corrupt:
- Hampton’s mayor, Barry Layne Moore, was arrested in November and charged with a second-degree felony for alleged sale and possession of the painkiller Oxycodone. Moore was caught in a sting operation by the sheriff’s office. Florida Gov. Rick Scott then suspended him from office.
- The state found $US27,517 in expenditures “for which the City’s records did not clearly demonstrate that a public purpose was served,” according to an audit. Other allegedly mishandled funds include $US8,258 in overpayments to the former city clerk and $US11,354 of unbilled and uncollected water revenue.
- Hampton apparently had no established rules for how employees were allowed to use city credit cards and charge accounts, and receipts weren’t always retained.
- Over four years, that audit found the city made purchases totaling $US7,845 on a Visa credit card, $US18,372 on a Wal-Mart credit card, and a whopping $US132,350 on a charge account at a local convenience store.
- The city also didn’t seem to keep close track of its employees. It didn’t have a formal leave policy, but one employee was paid $US2,573 in lieu of taking vacation, according to the audit.
- Hampton appears to have a problem with nepotism, the audit found. The city allegedly paid the former city clerk’s son and daughter for services that were never reported to the IRS, and the city council reappointed a council member’s wife to her position as clerk.
- Hampton reportedly didn’t keep track of the ordinances city council passed.
- Financial record-keeping was allegedly dismal, and city employees reportedly told state auditors records they were looking for got “lost in the swamp” or destroyed in an accident, according to CNN.
- Money for “drug sting operations” was taken from petty cash but not tracked, the audit found.
- The city is also a notorious speed trap near Gainseville. Hampton’s police officers reportedly focused a lot of their time on catching speeders on a small stretch of highway, and the tickets brought in more than $US200,000 in revenue in a year, according to the audit. But the city reportedly didn’t keep track of where that money went.
It’s unclear exactly what will happen to Hampton from here, but at this point, it might be easier to dissolve the town rather than fix it.
State legislators have agreed to wait and see if the city will take steps to improve. If they do decide to move to dissolve it, it will become a part of Bradford County.
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