As his time with the Nassau County Sheriff's Office winds down, Sheriff Tommy Seagraves says it has been an honor for him to be an employee of the organization for the last 30 years and a privilege to serve as sheriff for the last eight.
"When I came to work, there was 18 people in jail, we had about 65 employees, and we only had four deputies working the entire county," Seagraves said.
The bittersweet end for the sheriff has given him a lot of time to reflect on his career with the Sheriff's Office. He points to being on America's Most Wanted in 1994 when he was a detective trying to arrest serial killer Gary Ray Bowles as his most memorable case. But the thing he is most proud of is leaving the Sheriff's Office with no unsolved homicide cases.
"I think it sends a message. I've heard it from surrounding counties that people who would come up here to commit crimes say they wouldn't do it in Nassau, they don't play, they will put you in jail," Seagraves said.
For the last three years, the FBI has been investigating Seagraves and the organization for alleged misuse of funds. Seagraves has said from the beginning neither he nor the Sheriff's Office have done anything wrong, and as he leaves office, he still maintains that.
"We're going to cooperate with them," he said. "As far as where it's at, three years later, I'm still sitting here and we're still here cooperating and open. I feel confident that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing."
Seagraves' time with the Sheriff's Office officially ends at midnight Monday. That's when Sheriff-elect Bill Leeper, a retired lieutenant with the Florida Highway Patrol, will take over.