Former Alachua County Manager Lee Niblock was booked on a misdemeanor battery charge in Collier County early Thursday evening, according to reports.
Niblock, 64, is charged with a misdemeanor battery in Marco Island — a city of 16,000 — where he was city manager for about three months following his termination in August 2017. Before he came to Alachua County, Niblock was Marion County’s manager.
According to the investigation, Niblock is accused of attempting to kiss and touch a woman after offering her a $140,000-a-year job that he created.
Gainesville police issued a sworn complaint in late March to the State Attorney’s office also recommending to charge Niblock with battery, detailing similar allegations.
Niblock was fired last month from his new job in Marco Island, for what the city council determined unethical behavior. He had a salary of $185,000.
According to the report released Thursday, Niblock met with a principal and her supervisor to discuss possible repairs to a baseball facility.
The two told law enforcement that Niblock, just one month on the job, made inappropriate comments and behaved oddly during the meeting. He commented on the principal’s appearance, saying her looks were distracting, and then proceeded to talk about a pair of open city positions.
The next day, investigators said, Niblock began texting the principal. He later offered to take her to dinner to discuss city and school business and insisted on picking her up, the report said. Investigators said Niblock attempted to recruit the principal for a newly created director of communications and government affairs position with a salary range of $92,000 to $118,000.
The principal claims the man behaved inappropriately during dinner and insisted on paying and said she could repay him with a kiss.
On the ride home, the report said Niblock attempted to touch the woman’s hand twice and that she pulled away. The report said he then grabbed her for a hug, then attempted to kiss her on the lips.
The woman told investigators the kissing and touching was unwanted. She said Niblock texted her seven times after the dinner and got no response, including sending her a link to WebMD, the report said.
In the weeks that followed, the woman told investigators, she began hearing rumors about Niblock bad mouthing her.
According to the GPD complaint, Niblock is being accused of battery, a first-degree misdemeanor, stemming from a June 2017 incident that involved a different woman in Gainesville and a “future job opportunity.”
There are a few different types of battery charges in Florida. In its simplest form, battery involves an unwanted or uninvited touching or striking to another person. The penalties for battery charges can be severe even if it is a misdemeanor offense. The good news is that there are many viable options for a battery defense under Florida law. Our Alachua County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you determine which defense might be available for your situation.
Simple battery is a first degree misdemeanor. The possible penalties include up to one year in jail or 12 months of probation. Fines up to $1,000 are also common.