City staff to start review of 'black ops' file - - Columbia, South Carolina |

City staff to start review of 'black ops' file

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Even though evidence did not lead to criminal charges during law enforcement's investigation into an alleged "black ops" scheme, there might be more left in the hands of the city manager when dealing with personnel issues.

The S.C. Law Enforcement Division confirmed to WIS that a city employee picked up its copy of the investigative file from SLED's office Wednesday. WIS attempted to get City Manager Teresa Wilson to comment on her plans, if any, since the report was released. Instead, Wilson directed WIS back to a statement she made last week about how she will proceed.

"I, along with proper subject matter experts, executive staff and legal advisors will meet to review the file thoroughly to ensure that we have assessed all outcomes of the investigation process," Wilson said at last week's press conference with Upstate Solicitor Walt Wilkins.

"At this juncture, I cannot make any comments regarding next steps of the path forward until the file has been received and thoroughly reviewed by all pertinent parties," Wilson said, adding she is committed to "transparency, full disclosure and integrity in the Columbia Police Department."

SLED got involved when former Capt. Dave Navarro said interim Police Chief Ruben Santiago was plotting a "black ops" plan to plant a gun and drugs in a city official's car. Following Navarro's allegation, Santiago fired back to say Navarro was illegally shredding documents and misappropriating funds from the Columbia Police Foundation, according to SLED's file.

The file also showed agents found a cash box in Navarro's office and what they identified as sloppy record keeping. However, prosecutors did not find enough evidence to file charges on either of those allegations.

The city manager's office would not say who the advisors are nor how long it will take the city officials to review the SLED report. The file raises some integrity and confidence issues. WIS was told these issues will be considered as the city reviews the 405-page file. Ultimately, Wilson will determine whether to take action to reinstate Navarro or take action against Santiago for not being forthright with investigators.

Twelve other agencies also requested copies of the final report, including the Columbia Police Department.

Agents interviewed at least 30 Columbia city employees, including about a dozen CPD officers. WIS reached out to some of those interviewed during the investigation, including Santiago. He was out of town, but agreed to an interview with WIS on Thursday.

On Thursday, Columbia Police told WIS Santiago needs time to review the SLED report and consult with his attorney Todd Rutherford. Rutherford returned WIS' calls Thursday and raised issues with investigators who say Santiago was not forthright with them. He claims agents did not raise the issue during interviews.

WIS also tried to contact former crime analyst Bridget Caffery on Wednesday. Caffery made one of the recordings and found the other one on former Chief Randy Scott's iPad. Instead, Caffery's attorneys from J. Lewis Cromer and Associates said they are still waiting for a copy of the SLED report for review before talking to the media.

"Ms. Caffery is a 24-year-old female whose first job after graduating from the University of South Carolina was working for the City of Columbia. She performed excellently as a crime analyst, an important law enforcement function, as indicated by her performance evaluations and personnel file," Caffery's attorneys said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

The attorneys claim Caffery is a victim "in her dealings with the City of Columbia; with former Police Chief Randy Scott, who is more than 20 years her senior; and with the other players involved." The attorneys are representing Caffery in potential claims against the city "to redress her forced resignation."

WIS called Scott, who now works at the Richland County Sheriff's Office, for an interview. A RCSO spokesman called WIS to say Scott is not doing interviews concerning the SLED file.

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