An ethics complaint filed by Rufus Guilford against Sheriff David Tatum over a parcel of land at Mossy Pond is expected to be resolved at a final hearing next week.
As reported last spring, Guilford, 82, deeded over two acres of land at Lake McKenzie in the Mossy Pond Community to Tatum back in 2006. “I gave it to the Sheriff’s Office for the kids to swim and the old folks to go down there and talk,” Guilford told The County Record.
Sheriff Tatum says he was trying to fulfill Guilford’s wishes when he went before the County Commission on June 18, 2006, asking for a long term renewable lease to the Commission for the property so the public could use it and the Sheriff’s Office could patrol the site. The 20-year lease agreement was approved for $1 per year with the Sheriff paying the $20 out of his own pocket to cover the county’s lease. Nearly two years later, Guilford said he intended to give the property to the Sheriff’s Office, instead of Sheriff Tatum as he did, and wound up filing an ethics complaint.
However, in depositions taken in July of this year, Guilford said the transaction with Sheriff Tatum was “satisfactory” and added, “David Tatum ain’t took no advantage of me. Everything I done was free hearted.”
Sheriff Tatum wound up terminating the lease with the county and returning the land to Guilford last year. Tatum has agreed in a joint stipulation that he should have reported the land gift in a more timely manner.
The Commission on Ethics will consider final action Friday morning at their quarterly meeting.