Alachua Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. Resigns, Leaving Behind Legacy of Corruption

Alachua Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. Resigns, Leaving Behind Legacy of Corruption

Editor's Notes: If you are looking for legal documents relating to any of these topics, all are available for download at the bottom of this page.

As of October 2nd, 2023, Clovis Watson Jr. is officially no longer the sheriff of Alachua. Watson stated in a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis that his last day in office would be October 1st, and that the purpose of his resignation was health problems; however, this comes after multiple employee lawsuits that sided against him, along with a long trail of years of corruption.

With election fraud, impersonation of an officer, millions of dollars disappearing, a fire at city hall, an operation to turn Alachua into a Republican County, two of his sons being arrested, faking education credentials, three recent employee lawsuits, a lawsuit by the Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA), sexual assault allegations, and the alleged murder of 12-year-old Adam Webb, Watson leaves behind a long trail of corruption throughout his career in political office and law enforcement.


Watson's Sexual Assault Allegations:

On April 17, 2000, Major Watson and Chief Jernigan contacted a supervisor about anonymous letters being sent to Watson and various agencies around Alachua. A copy of one of the letters to Commissioner Moore is displayed in a police report.

"Dear Commissioner Moore:

This is in reference to Deputy Chief of Police, Clovis Watson. He works for the Alachua Police Department. Please note the attached letter to Chief Jernigan.

I feel this matter is extremely important. Deputy Watson is an official of the law and the activity he is engaging in may cause someone to break the law. Someone needs to point out to him how his action may take place on his private time, but how these matters effect the lives of others.

I have also forwarded this letter to the Mayor's Office of both Gainesville and Alachua, the State Attorneys' Office, the commissioners of each city, and various people within the community. I realize unless I make myself known, charges cannot be brought against Mr. Watson. However, I feel and hope these actions will force him to seek professional help for his problems. He is abusive both mentally and physically and is extremely immature. His actions have harmed many people. He does not seem to care how his actions and treatment of others effects them. I want to make the community aware of the type of person 'in charge of the law.'

Please take whatever actions necessary to protect my rights and the rights of other young women involved.

It has been brought to my attention that Mr. Watson has taken nude pictures of various ladies and uses this as means of control with threats to expose the photos."

Another letter that was sent to police chief Robert Jernigan is shown in the report. It was much more graphic than its predecessor, going into detail about alleged physical, mental, and sexual abuses committed by Watson.

Watson was able to identify the writer, with him telling Jernigan that he had a prior relationship with the woman in Miami two years before the letter was written. She was quickly charged, with Watson being called a "victim" in police reports.

Annoymous letter sent to James Moore 

Commissioner Rothseiden's Allegations and The Death of Adam Webb:

On May 1st, 2002, Adam Webb was electrocuted to death after going inside an unlocked gate on city hall property, which contained three electrical transformers. Adam Webb's family filed a lawsuit, stating the enclosure shouldn't have been unlocked on public property.

On May 27, 2004, Alachua Commissioner Diana Lynn Rothseiden alleged that she and fellow commissioner Tamara Robbins were fearful for their lives after learning Watson was the head of a drug ring in Alachua called the "Untouchables." The FDLE investigative report states that Rothseiden got an anonymous call from someone who said that Adam Webb was murdered and that Watson covered it up. She was allegedly told that Webb's brother pushed him into the electrical lines. The statement also advised that Webb's mother, Priscilla Pickett, was a dealer for Watson and that Webb had been murdered for causing him problems.

Rothseiden went into detail about Watson's thievery, stating she found documents that show a 1.2 million-dollar bill being paid twice to two different accounts. Watson reportedly told her to "not worry about it."

Rothseiden additionally alleged that Watson erased records of a 1990 battery charge he had.

FDLE report on commissioner Rothseiden's allegations against Watson

Watson's Election Fraud and the Investigation by Charles Grapski:

In April 2006, Charles Grapski became a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. One of the first things he did in his campaign was travel to Alachua. While talking to members of the community, Grapski heard horror stories of gross election fraud and people being driven out of town for standing up to the current city manager, Watson, and the rest of the city government.

At the time, there was an election going on between James Lewis and Lewis Irby for a commissioner seat. Lewis had been sitting for 40 years, and it would've not been in the Alachua city government's interest for Irby to win.

Grapski went to observe the election and witnessed all the ballots being held inside Alan Henderson's office. Within a few days, Grapski filed a lawsuit against the City of Alachua. The City of Alachua also faced a lawsuit from a non-profit organization that Grapski was the president of, the FL Fair Elections Initiative.

Grapski's first arrest was a week after he filed his lawsuit. He went to City Hall to get election records. In a recent interview, Grapski described how he found the election was fraudulent through uncounted absentee ballots, as well as how Watson arrested him for it.

"Clovis came, and in the middle of his desk was a recorder that I had that they had been complaining about the whole time. Clovis knew it was there. Over the weekend, Clovis called me. He made an appointment for Monday. He said, 'I need that recording.' I'm like, 'Yeah, I'll think about it.' Like, no. I came back in on Monday for my scheduled appointment.

He expected me to count the absentee ballots in terms of who voted for whom and find out that they all added up to what the accounting said. But the change in the absentee ballots is what gave the election to James Lewis, whom Clovis was basically running the campaign for out of Alan Henderson's office. It became an eight-vote difference, including Clovis' vote. That's how bad it was; these people were pathetic. I'm sitting there, and instead, I'm going through ballot by ballot, because I actually had the absentee ballot lists for three days during the election of who cast the ballot, who asked for a ballot, who got the ballot, and who returned the ballot.

They didn't know this; Clovis had no idea. I was looking at the signatures, the date stamp on the mail, and all the details. Clovis said, 'Are you going to do this for every one of the ballots?' I'm like, 'Yes, I am.'

Watson walks in while I'm looking at the ballots. He walks in with two police officers and the chief, Robert Jernigan. All of a sudden, he says to me, 'Mr. Grapski, I need to interrupt you a second; I'm arresting you for felony wiretapping.' He arrested me for the wiretapping that 1st of May, 2006."

Watson's arrest report alleged Grapski tried to hide the fact that he was recording him; however, the audio recording shows Grapski did not try to hide the fact he was recording Watson upon his asking.

Grapski's arrest report

Watson's Crime of Impersonation:

Watson committed the crime of impersonation of a police officer by serving as both a city manager and an officer of the law. Legal documents state that Watson violated multiple Florida statutes by serving dual offices.

Watson’s arrest of Grapski for wiretapping was unlawful. Not only was Grapski's recording of Watson permitted under the law, but Watson had no jurisdiction to arrest Grapski. Grapski detailed how Rod Smith helped Watson hold dual office.

"Clovis, with Rod Smith's help, created a contract that I had basically exposed many years later… The contract was that they had given him the title of police commissioner. There was no police commissioner in the city charter or anything like that. These were just made-up words. Clovis, as city manager, would report himself to the state as not a city manager but a full-time law enforcement officer, in the line of duty and harm's way, entitled to not only early retirement but extra benefits, an extra percentage, and a higher wage."

This wasn't the only time Watson unlawfully arrested Grapski. Grapski was banned until November while his wiretapping case was ongoing; however, after it was thrown out, he returned to Alachua. While participating in a city council meeting, Grapski was dragged out by four officers because he made a quiet comment to someone sitting behind him. Watson ordered an officer to tase Grapski; however, the officer refused.

Grapski was arrested again at the Alachua police station after attempting to file a police report. The chief of police obtained his private bank records without a warrant. He gave it and a three-page diatribe to Watson, who gave it to Hugh Calderwood, who had Stafford Jones publish it on a Republican website.

Grapski was standing outside the station talking to two officers when they suddenly tackled him and brought him inside the station.

The next day, Grapski had a hearing at the jail. After exiting the courtroom, he was beaten, assaulted, tortured, and left lying unconscious on the ground. Grapski received no medical care for a week, causing him to enter a comatose state for multiple days, inducing traumatic brain injuries.


Watson's Thievery:

During his time serving as a city manager and law enforcement officer, Watson collected additional monetary gains. In June of 2007, Grapski's lawyer, Joseph Little, wrote a letter to the director of the Fl Retirement Division, Sarabeth Snuggs, which mentions records of Watson's collection of almost $80,000 he was not entitled to.

"This is not a trivial matter. According to a document prepared by your division, City paid Watson about $61,000 in the last year in which he was in fact employed full-time in that capacity. The same report shows Watson's present pay to be about $140,000 per year. If Watson should retire with 25 years of service the difference between his retirement pay based upon a final five-year average of about $140,000 as opposed to about $61,000 is enormous… If you assume a 20-year life expectancy and extend the added amount over the lifetime, then you may estimate that the Florida Retirement System (FRS) would pay Watson a sum of about $1.2 million which is not authorized by law. This would be quite a raid on FRS funds."

This wasn't the only time funds turned up missing under Watson and the city government's jurisdiction. In Michael Canney and Grapski's documentary, produced by Tom Miller, about Grapski’s investigation into Watson and the City of Gainesville, he held up a check that was written, "By the city of Alachua, for the city of Alachua." It was written for $1,272,493.92. Grapski received the public record from former commissioner Tamara Robbins. The check was signed by Tracey Kane and Gib Coerper. Coerper is the current mayor of Alachua and was serving a previous term as mayor when the check was written.

Grapski disclosed additional benefits Watson received.

"After coming from a low-paid police position, he had a $400,000 home that belonged to a former county commissioner... When Clovis became city manager, the city had what the state required, which was a reserve fund. In that reserve fund were a hundred and something million dollars. If the city ever had a catastrophe or anything, that money was there. It was a felony to touch that money without an emergency. When Clovis stopped being city manager, we learned that there was only $8,000 left in that account. ​​

What nobody knows is that Clovis, without ever having gotten any public hearing, had created a $6 million city hall complex. The new Alachua City Hall complex, which they weren't going to move into for several months.”


The Fire at Alachua City Hall:

On the night of December 3, 2006, Alachua City Hall went up in flames. The fire happened just days after Grapski requested public records on the emails of city officials. The fire reportedly started from computers that had the emails saved on them and were turned off. Grapski and Canney's documentary states that no fire alarms went off. The fire department was on the same street and did not have an immediate response. The fires likely didn't destroy records of the emails, as Grapski put it, "they were saved off-site." Grapski mentioned another possible motivation Watson would have to get Alachua City Hall burned.

"The whole thing they were doing was transferring from the old City Hall to the new City Hall, and Watson's job was to get rid of all the records of a hundred years of Alachua corruption."

Shortly after the fire, Watson purchased two industrial-sized shredders with the insurance money. The city did not own any industrial shredders, making this insurance fraud.


Operation Red:

In 2007, Grapski stated publicly that Watson was starting an initiative referred to as "Operation Red." Operation Red was spearheaded by Watson in order to turn Alachua into a Republican county. As a response to Grapski's statements, Watson confirmed he had plans to register as a Republican. He went on TV with Republican representatives and stated that the Republican Party would bring "positiveness" and that "Alachua will be a county of the Republican Party." Watson went on to say that those who disagree with him have "ugliness and hatred."

This footage is shown in Grapski and Canney's documentary and can be viewed here.


Fake Education Credentials:

Documentation shows that Watson's degrees were not accredited. Watson had claimed that he was awarded the degree and title of Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Mountain State University. Mountain State University was later shut down for producing fraudulent degrees and was not accredited to give Watson an MPA.

Watson also earned a fraudulent degree in interdisciplinary studies from Mountain State University using credits that were not transferable. Watson then illegally taught classes in political science at Santa Fe College, as he had not earned a single political science credit.

Documentation also shows Watson does not know how to spell, as his transcript shows he had taken a class in stategical analysis. The transcript proves that he gained an overwhelming amount of credits in a single semester while also being city manager. Grapski disclosed how the State Attorney helped Watson avoid consequences, as well as how he continued to fake his education credentials.

"The State Attorney, rather than prosecute Watson, said, 'Watson, you have to stop.' Clovis overnight got rid of every document, got rid of every business card, got rid of all the letterhead, bought new letterhead using city money, claiming he was an MBA, not an MPA, and purchased an MBA in one month from enrollment to graduation at this university from Northeast Arizona.

He was claiming they were going to give him a Ph.D., but the problem was that the Ph.D. required them to get some work from him. Anything that Clovis ever did for having to produce something for these degrees was something like him getting credit for work experience for the city's budget."

These degrees were paid for by the City of Alachua, meaning Watson used taxpayer money to take a class in stategical analysis and obtain a theoretical doctorate in philosophy.


Watson's Kids:

Two of Watson's children have been convicted of crimes. Jermetras Watson has been convicted of multiple sex crimes and is a convicted sexual predator. According to Grapski, Clovis Watson attempted to put Jermetras above the law in 2009 when he had a warrant out on him for failing to provide a sexual offender registry address.

"The city police wouldn't arrest him, but an FDLE officer was there at the city police station washing his vehicle. He found out about it and went and arrested him. Then Clovis and the chief had him released. Of course, Clovis said, 'Oh, I had nothing to do with that. My children have to learn the error of their ways,' you know. He puts on a big act."

Jermetras has been a convicted sex offender since 1998 for committing lewd and lascivious acts against a child. More recently, in 2017, he was charged with exposing himself to a group of children three days after he was released from jail. According to a report by WFTV 9, court records show Jemetras had been accused of exposing himself to women and children at least 17 times between 2007 and 2017. He was previously arrested in 2015 for exposing himself to a group of elementary school students; however, he was not convicted.

According to the FDLE Sexual Offender and Predator Search, Jemetras Watson is currently confined.

Clovis Watson's other son, Clovis Watson IV, has also been in trouble with the law. In July 2020, Watson IV was arrested and charged with stalking. According to a report by WCJB, Watson IV was dating a woman for two years until she filed a burglary report against him and discontinued all communication. Since then, he messaged her repeatedly on social media, waited outside her residence, followed her home, drove aggressively behind her, crashed into her car, went to her apartment with a gun, and then came back later and broke into her car. Following these actions, Gainesville officers "advised" Watson IV to stop. Two days after the warning, the victim called ACSO and said she wanted an injunction.

On July 17, 2020, he was arrested after deputies arrived when he tried to follow her car again.

Two years later, in July 2022, Watson IV was arrested again. He had a warrant for habitually driving without a valid license. The case was dealt with by the State Attorney, and a plea deal was reached. Watson IV was sentenced to 12 months of probation and 100 hours of community service.


Capt. Rebecca Butscher Lawsuit:

On March 13, 2023, Capt. Rebecca Butscher filed a lawsuit against Watson for his handling of an administrative investigation (AI) in which she was being investigated.

According to court documents, this situation began when Lance Yaeger was promoted to the rank of major. Butscher had outranked Yaeger for most of his career, and they had already disliked each other for reasons that are not specified, with a witness statement simply stating they had "past issues'' or "disagreements."

On February 14th, 2023, less than 30 days after Yaeger began outranking Butscher, he filed a complaint form alleging she violated the "insubordination" policy by being "insubordinate" to him the prior day. Butscher was never informed of the specific actions she took to warrant the complaint during the investigation.

On February 22, 2023, Yaeger ordered Butscher into his office, where he told her he was investigating his own allegation of her alleged violation of the "insubordination" policy. Yaeger was unable to question Butcher as she invoked her right to counsel. This was followed by Yaeger ordering Butscher to write him a statement, and him saying that he may question her at a later time. He did not provide an audio recording of the meeting, which is required by law.

On March 6th, 2023, Watson informed Butscher that the allegation against her for disrespectful behavior during a corrective counseling session had been sustained. She was told she'd be suspended without pay for 2 ½ days and that she would be placed on disciplinary probation for 1 year.

Watson violated Butscher's Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) in multiple ways. He refused to invoke or participate in a compliance review hearing despite being reminded. He did not grant Butscher an impartial investigation, allowing Yaeger to investigate his own complaint. He allowed Yaeger to make a complaint against Butscher when they were in a different order of hierarchy, in which case Alachua County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) policy would require him to make the complaint to Butscher's supervisor.

The court ultimately sided in favor of Butscher. The judge determined Watson was to grant Butscher a compliance review hearing.

On June 2nd, 2023, Butscher's lawyer, Bobbi Frank, notified the court that Butscher and Watson had "settled their differences in lieu of a compliance review hearing.” Frank asked the court to enforce the settlement if deemed necessary.


Sgt. William "Frank" Williams Lawsuit:

On March 13, 2023, Sgt. Frank Williams filed a lawsuit against Clovis Watson for his handling of an AI.

The investigation began on January 23, 2023, after Williams made a Facebook post that served as a response to a post the ACSO had made about various promotions within the department. William's post stated the following.

"Hopefully this shares correctly. Comments are turned off by order of the Alachua County Sheriff which is interesting in itself, but I digress.

Congratulations are in order here. Some of these are deserved and some are not. It's quite disappointing that my agency didn't post the 34 other seemingly senseless personnel changes that they made effective January 15, 2023 along with these promotions/appointments. I would hope that an administration who demands to be involved in everything would reciprocate and at least show transparency. Especially to the public at large whom we serve.

This will be the sixth major reorganization for this administration in approximately one and a half years. For example, on my shift I'm the only remaining supervisor. So they transferred three out of four supervisors to other shifts or divisions and replaced them. If continuity of operations, safety, efficiency, efficacy, and the overall success of the mission were the goal, does it make sense to shake all of the puzzle pieces every time you reach a certain level of completion?

I'm just exhausted from constantly being disappointed by this administration. I'm done suppressing my feelings and my own mental health just to avoid retaliation. Quite literally, this is no different than a domestic violence relationship.

I'll probably find myself transferred or disciplined in some fashion because of this, but I don't give a fuck. I'm tired of my friends, nah family, being treated poorly. Just make sure whomever complains or provides this to the throne room that you spell my name right. And never forget, it's 1164."

On February 16, 2023, Investigator Virgil Calhoun called Williams to schedule a date and time to go to the Office of Professional Standards (OPS) and review the AI evidence file and to be interrogated regarding it. On March 1st, Williams arrived at the OPS for the AI evidence review.

The following day, Williams served Watson and Investigator Calhoun an invocation of a compliance review hearing. Williams later found out Watson and Calhoun closed the AI with a finding of sustained without granting him a compliance review hearing.

On March 8th, Watson served Williams with a notice of intent to terminate.

Williams had been previously disciplined for multiple vehicle crashes, having a relationship with an employee, unfavorable conduct, and criminal conduct; however, it was upon making a social media post that criticized the Alachua Police Department that Watson attempted to terminate Williams.

Watson and Calhoun were in violation of the LEOBOR by not granting Williams a compliance review hearing, intentionally failing to comply with the requirements of an internal affairs investigation, and not providing proper evidence of the violations. The lawsuit stated, "All of Watson and Calhoun's actions while investigating Calhoun were in violation of ACSO policies."

The court sided in Williams' favor, with the judge ordering Watson to grant him a compliance review hearing.

On June 2nd, 2023, Williams' lawyer, Bobbi Frank, notified the court that Williams and Watson had "settled their differences in lieu of a compliance review hearing.” Frank asked the court to enforce the settlement if deemed necessary.


Sgt. Kevin Davis Lawsuit

On February 16, 2023, Kevin Davis, a White man, filed a charge of discrimination against Watson with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Davis accused him of letting race play a pivotal role in his employment decisions. Davis demanded compensation for lost wages and "equitable relief."

On September 19, 2021, Davis took the lieutenant promotional exam and exceeded the minimum competency score, making him eligible for promotion. This promotion is valid through September 23, 2023. ACSO rules allow the top 5 scorers to be eligible for promotion, and Davis scored #3.

As evidence, Davis' lawsuit cited two examples of Black officers who took the test and were not in the top five yet gained a promotion. The lawsuit went on to highlight further examples of Black employees replacing White employees.

There were two White men who received a promotion to lieutenant under Watson; however, the lawsuit states that they also had lower test scores than Davis and claims the purpose of their promotion was to conceal their intent. The suit pointed out that one of the men had been demoted a few days after his promotion.

According to the Alachua Clerk of Court's website, Davis' case is still open.


PBA Lawsuit:

On March 2nd, 2022, the PBA filed a class action grievance against Watson. PBA General Counsel Stephanie Webster sent a letter to the ACSO claiming Watson failed to provide eligible ACSO personnel step increases on October 1, 2021. The letter alleges the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) entitles the officers to the increases.

Watson responded to the PBA, saying that he "respectfully disagrees" with them.

On March 9th, 2022, Watson sent a letter to ACSO employees. The letter begins with an upbeat tone, with Watson repeatedly stating he is committed to taxpayers and employees. Watson went on to point out the 3% cost of living adjustment and said he would work to protect police pension money.

Watson ended the letter by stating, "Look to your buddy on the left and right to acknowledge the 'new normal' that we depend on one another to endure. It is not normal. It is exceptional. I hope to continue bringing you more benefits worthy of the sacrifices you and your family make in the name of safety for a public who doesn't always understand."

The letter directly contradicts negotiations between Watson and the ACSO. The lawsuit suggests the letter was only written to confuse bargainers.

The following day, North Central Florida PBA President Jody Branaman made a statement responding to Watson's letter.

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Now that Sheriff Watson is facing a lawsuit over his unfair labor practices, he is re-sending our members the very same deal they voted down just a few months ago with the hope that they've forgotten how disingenuous the first offer was. In addition, it is ironic that the chief law enforcement officer in our county continues to violate well-established labor law, which prohibits a public employer from bypassing our bargaining unit by directly negotiating with our members. Our members will not be fooled nor divided. We will continue to fight for a fair and equitable benefits package that invests in retaining the best men and women to keep our County safe."

On March 28, 2022, The PBA officially filed a lawsuit against Watson for unfair labor practices. The lawsuit additionally went over a dispute in negotiations between Watson and the PBA regarding ACSO's take-home vehicle policy. This was followed by Branaman making another statement:

"In the wake of Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr.'s repeated violations of Florida labor law and his continued failure to negotiate in good faith, the North Central Florida PBA has filed an Unfair Labor practices complaint against the Sheriff with the Public Employees Relations Commission. Our lawsuit contains an abundance of clear evidence of a continued pattern to deny our contractual rights, while also seeking to divide our membership. The purpose of this legal action is to demand that PERC compel the Sheriff to take the following immediate actions: to begin negotiating in good faith, to cease direct dealings with our members, to immediately pay our Sheriff Deputies the 2.5% step increase, which they are legally entitled to with interest, and to discontinue from making unilateral changes to our working conditions without proper negotiations. If the Sheriff is unwilling to comply with our demands, we're confident that PERC will."

According to General Counsel Stephanie Webster the case was settled before a hearing took place.


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Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of G.P.I.S and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL