EXCLUSIVE: State gun range officials pocketed funds from spent brass sales meant for charity

27
Rather then benefiting a youth charity, spent brass at the state-owned Cecil M. Webb shooting range has been sold by two state employees and a convicted felon, who have been keeping the money for years.   STAFF PHOTO / MIKE LANG

Rather then benefiting a youth charity, spent brass at the state-owned Cecil M. Webb shooting range has been sold by two state employees and a convicted felon, who have been keeping the money for years. STAFF PHOTO / MIKE LANG

Lee’s note: Here’s a gun-related investigative story I’ve been reporting, which will run in Thursday’s Herald-Tribune.

The story reveals how for years money raised from the sale of spent brass collected at the state-owned Cecil M. Webb shooting range went to two state employees and a felon, rather than to a youth hunting charity as range officials falsely claimed.

This isn’t merely an allegation.  We saw it for ourselves when we watched the delivery of $1,000 worth of brass — a purchase we were invited to record.

This story is likely bigger than just the Webb range, since FWC has admitted it had no real policy in place regarding the tons of brass that accumulate at its nine ranges, just a legal opinion that said state employees weren’t supposed to profit from the public’s brass.

I have to thank the H-T’s photo director Mike Lang for all his hard work.

I also have to thank Jordan Williams and Chris Senterfitt, owners of Amendment II Armory. They really stepped up.

Without Chris and Jordan, the brass scheme would likely still be active, and Florida’s young hunters would still be deprived of their due.

I will continue to follow this story, so if any of you have additional information, please contact me at (941) 284-8553 or lee.williams@heraldtribune.com

Thanks,

Lee

Here’s the story:

HERALD-TRIBUNE INVESTIGATION

State gun range officials pocketed funds meant for charity

Published: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 at 10:12 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 at 12:59 p.m.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY – The signs on the 55-gallon drums at the Cecil M. Webb Shooting Range say: “Brass recycled in these bins will help fund the Florida Youth Hunt Program.”

But that’s a lie.

Money from the brass is pocketed by two state employees and a felon.

The Webb range, operated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, is the busiest public shooting operation in the state, hosting as many as 300 shooters per day, 362 days a year.

Those 100,000-plus customers create a veritable river of spent brass — very valuable spent brass — and Webb is just one of nine ranges in Florida operated by the commission.

A Herald-Tribune investigation has found that instead of going to charity, the money from the recycled brass goes to three men: Glenn Nickell, Webb’s chief range safety officer; his boss, John Weatherholt, who until this week oversaw Webb and two other commission ranges from an office in Lakeland; and Glenn Demoss, an ex-con who does side jobs for Nickell.

Weatherholt resigned after the Herald-Tribune began asking questions.

Weatherholt and Nickell, aided by Demoss, have been selling the brass to a half-dozen metal recyclers throughout Florida and the southern Georgia city of Valdosta. They used to share a small portion of the proceeds with the range staff, but that practice ended years ago after a range staffer told a commission official what was happening.

After word of that practice got out, a commission attorney sent a three-page email to Weatherholt and Nickell — a legal opinion shared with the other ranges — telling them that once a piece of brass hit the ground, it became state property.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Share.

About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

27 Comments

  1. Edward Vanderbosch on

    These clowns who were in charge always ran the place like they OWNED it, not the public, and that they were doing the shooting public a favor by them gracing the public with their very presence! Hope they are prosecuted and the state gets some REAL professionals who actually want to be there and be helpful and courteous to run the Cecil M. Webb range.

  2. Quit using Webb several years ago. The place is crowded and unsafe. Several reports of firearms being stolen off the shooting line while the owners were down range. Screw this range. There are too many better private options.

  3. Its encouraging to find people like Lee Williams that really care about others. With the amount of graft and corruption plaguing our state government…all government; this seems like a small step forward but it is a huge victory for the Florida Youth Hunt Program. Thanks for your great work and your care. Maybe this range and other state run ranges can now be operated as they should.

  4. Pingback: Florida: How Greedy Can They Get? | Pro 2nd Amendment Boycott – P2AB

  5. Anthony Meerpohl on

    I know both of these men, very disappointing and criminal IMHO since they are guilty of “poaching” brass and falsely advertising brass proceeds would go to the benefit of youth hunting in Florida.
    I think it would be best to “fine” the two of them in an amount that approximates their deceitful take and then send those fine $ go to public youth hunts.
    I donate my time to teach Hunter Safety and act in whatever capacity needed for the Youth hunts in my county. Very rewarding, more than some $ for brass. Shame on you John. I am not totally shocked.
    Collecting a salary from FFWC, a pension from service, expenses paid to travel the SW Florida region, and then conversion of brass under the guise of collecting for youth hunts. Did you not have enough?

    • Richard Fuchs on

      Jail time for them Gov Scott !!!!
      Felons all.
      Government employees are to be held to a higher standard.

      • What’s this? Corruption in our government? I hate to be the one to tell you but such corruption has been status quo for decades. A government job is more often than not, a license to steal as much as you possibly can, then collect a nice pension on top of that. Most politicians and other government employees are by definition, the greatest unhung scoundrels in this country. Once again, Mr. Fuchs, it’s time to clean house, and I mean on EVERY floor from the Supreme Court down to the House of so-called “Representatives”. This recent article spells it out: https://represent.us/action/theproblem-4/

  6. Despicable! Hard jail time should be done by all three! Great job on the reporting! If I had the time, I’d apply for the job of running the ranges! Our citizens deserve better!

  7. They will probably just be transferred to another State agency and the matter will fade away. It seems to be SOP with the Federal government. Criminal acts there are immune to prosecution e.g., the I.R.S..

  8. corruption is running wild at all levels of our government, the fact that officials at all levels are not held accountable for their wrongdoings is the reason why they think it is okay to steal and to abuse their power, they have forgotten who pays their salary,it is not “the government” but us the taxpayers who foots the bill, since the” Justice department, the “white house”, congress and the IRS are totally corrupt,
    what is to be expected of these “officials”, they need to be arrested because they are nothing but common thieves, their properties should be confiscated and the proceeds of the sale given to the children’s fund,

  9. Lauana Thompson on

    Cecil Webb is a wonderful place that does have very dedicated, loyal, generous and honest members who are heroes in my book. One such hero is my best friend. I am honored to know her and all she contributes to the Outdoors. She sees adversity such as this as an opportunity for good. Working with dedication (no pay) she enjoys this chance to help our youth which is one group affected by this ‘indiscretion’ in that it will raise public awareness in just how the Webb helps these youth. They are given such wonderful learning opportunities there. Though there are a couple bad apples I know still there are those who have dedicated their lives for the betterment of others working closely with the Webb and other agencies to see people like our youth prosper there in the right way. I thank God for people like my best friend.

  10. Pingback: A peak inside my Second Amendment toolbox - The Gun Writer

  11. Pingback: A peek inside my Second Amendment toolbox | pistolponies

  12. you mentioned there are 9 state gun ranges in Florda, are they ran by the fish and game. What is the cost $ to shoot at these ranges or or do you need to join a club. Could you give me the add. of the 9 state ranges thanks for your help Tom

  13. Pingback: The Gun Writer TV episode 23: The Top 10 gun-related stories for 2015 - The Gun Writer

Leave A Reply