Ex-Oak Hill Mayor: Embattled Police Chief Diane Young not only snorted coke and smoked pot, but also popped ludes

Oak Hill Cops: Cocaine, Corruption & Chaos / NSBNEWS.net exclusive

Oak Hill Police Chief Diane Young admits using drugs before she was a cop.Photo by Sera Frederick / Police Chief Diane Young has been dogged by a host of problems since she became the city's top cop in March 2010, including two sergeants suspended under her command.

OAK HILL -- Before she became a cop, by her own admission, Diane Young snorted cocaine 100 times and smoked marijuana. She also took quaaludes, commonly referred to as "ludes," according to results of a lie detector test she took as part of her hiring process.

The embattled police chief, beset by a host of corruption allegations by rogue cops under her command for more than a year, admitted to the cocaine and marijuana usage in writing on her application with the city eight years ago. But she left off her use of quaaludes, a highly addictive drug similar to barbiturates, known for its euphoric effects.

The discovery of the third drug was made last month by then-Mayor Darla Lauer who abruptly resigned, saying initially in a resignation letter to the city that it was because of her pending move to Alaska where her husband, an air traffic controller, has a new job. But Lauer told NSBNews.net moments after her e-mailed resignation she was "fed up with the corruption under the command of an inept chief" she never wanted in the first place because of her sordid drug history.

"I was stunned, absolutely stunned," Lauer told NSBNews.net of her discovery in Diane Young's personnel file. "What else was she on?"

NSBNews.net requested the file a week ago today from Oak Hill City Clerk/Administrator Laura Goodearly, who first stated she didn't believe Young's polygraph results were public record, but when pressed further said she didn't know and would have to check.

When NSBNews.net pointed out to Goodearly that the records were public unless she could cite an exemption in the Florida Open records law prohibiting their release. But she quickly said she was "too busy to debate" and hung up the phone. Goodearly has consistently stonewalled NSBNews.net on public documents, especially those related to allegations of corruption in the police department.

When NSBNews.net pointed out to Goodearly that the records were public unless she could cite an exemption in the Florida Open records law prohibiting their release. But she quickly said she was "too busy to debate" and hung up the phone. Goodearly has consistently stonewalled NSBNews.net on public documents, especially those related to allegations of corruption in the police department.

In March, Commissioner Ron Engele turned over a public document from NSBNews.net's video camera that was related to allegations of theft brought by officer M.J. Eberhart to the commission against Sgt. Manuel Perez after he and Sgt. Brian Riley first reported figures on the gas logs that didn't add up for Perez. The allegations against Perez, who denies any wrongdoing, were first brought to Young's attention by the two cops in early January.

Nearly two weeks ago, Engele had NSBNews.net's editor illegally thrown out of a public meeting after initially standing up and menacingly pointing at NSBNews.net's videographer while screaming at her, saying the camera was too close to him.

Earlier that day, NSBNews.net broke the story of Perez being placed on administrative leave with pay, just two days after Ihnken was fired outright by the commission.

And at the previous meeting, Goodearly tried to shield her face with a piece of paper after NSBNews.net reported she had been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol before she was hired by the city. She was seeking a 10-percent raise to $44,000, a request that was put off for six months. 

Video by Sera Frederick / Commissioner Ron Engele takes offense at NSBNews.net's meeting coverage, screaming at the videographer, who was focused on City Clerk / Administrator Laura Goodearly, trying to hide her face behind a computer screen.  In the second video,  Engele demands the removal of former City Clerk / Administrator Virginia Haas. In the third video, Engele demands the removal of NSBNews.net's editor.

Calls made to the Ormond Beach law firm of Oak Hill City Attorney Scott Simpson regarding Goodearly's stonewalling of NSBNews.net's public records request for Young's lie detector test were not returned.

Lauer said she believes the results of Young's polygraph test are public record, adding she found it peculiar that the polygraph results were not with the chief's personnel file, but rather under lock and key in the Goodearly's office.

NSBNews.net routinely includes accessed public records documents with its posted online stories as attachments in PDF format so that readers can see them for themselves as they back up or supplement what is written in the story.

Young has repeatedly refused to comment on her drug past and has not returned calls left for her with the police department. She also has not responded requests for comment on her personal e-mail, though she did send a comment to NSBNews.net via e-mail that was under the heading in bold letters: "Off The Record."

Young has repeatedly refused to comment on her drug past and has not returned calls left for her with the police department. She also has not responded requests for comment on her personal e-mail, though she did send a comment to NSBNews.net via e-mail that was under the heading in bold letters: "Off The Record."

During Young's tenure, two sergeants have been suspended on allegations of criminal wrongdoing. On March 28, then-demoted Sgt. Mike Ihnken was fired outright by the city commission, after two consecutive state attorney investigations, the second under Young.

But Just two days after Ihnken was fired, Sgt. Perez, promoted by Young and considered her second-in command, was placed on administrative leave with pay on criminal allegations of stealing gas from the city pump. 

Though Young has since notified Perez in writing that she found the gas theft allegations to be "inconclusive," just this week she hit him with a new laundry list of other allegations far less serious than the initial criminal complaint.

Earlier this year, then-Mayor Lauer twice demanded Young's resignation, saying shared blame in Ihnken's failure to keep up his firearms certification, which led to the police department being shut down for 24 hours in favor of patrols from the Volusia County Sheriff's Patrol while Young and the seven officers under her received re-certification from a Sheriff's firearms instructor.

Young also drew Lauer's wrath when she learned from since-retired State Attorney Investigator Jack Bisland that a reserve officer, Brandy Sutherlin, was presented by the chief to the city commission as fit for duty and armed with a gun and badge, even though Young never told the elected body that he failed a drug test before he was sworn in.

Young also drew Lauer's wrath when she learned from since-retired State Attorney Investigator Jack Bisland that a reserve officer, Brandy Sutherlin, was presented by the chief to the city commission as fit for duty and armed with a gun and badge, even though Young never told the elected body that he failed a drug test before he was sworn in.

Sutherlin was involved in a high-speed chase 13 months ago with another motorist after a slight collision while off-duty with his wife driving and their three small children in the back seat at speeds exceeding 100 mph while he fired several shots at the other vehicle.

VIDEO

Photo by Henry Frederick and audio production by Sera FrederickOak Hill police officer Brandy Sutherlin (at left) fills out a report while Oak Hill Police Chief Diane Young greets his wife, Christina, in this April 2010 story by NSBNews.net, on-scene in a gas station parking lot across from the New Smyrna Speedway, after the couple told troopers they were victims of a road-rage incident that began on I-95. Listen to the disturbing 9-1-1 call.

A 9-1-1 dispatcher pleaded with Sutherlin to stop the vehicle for the sake of his kids, something that wasn't done for several more miles on Interstate 95 and then on State Road 44 in New Smyrna Beach.

It was Young who publicly named Sutherlin as the officer who failed a drug test during a city commission meeting earlier this year. His name was redacted in the State Attorney's investigative report into allegations criminal wrongdoing by officers on the police force.

A damning report from the State Attorney's Office released in January and reported first by NSBNEWS.net concluded "probable cause exists" that Ihnken committed a crime by taking required online tests for fellow officers and affixing their names. However, the State Attorney investigation report concluded there wasn't sufficient evidence to successfully prosecute Ihnken in a court of law.

Those allegations were brought forth by then-Acting Chief Bob Walker who abruptly resigned in November 2009, paving the way for the commission to tab Young, whose only law enforcement experience was as a code enforcement officer, first as acting chief and then permanently less than four months later.

Diane Young was promoted to top cop of Oak Hill despite the embarrassment to the city when word leaked out that she had admitted on her job application that she snorted cocaine 100 times in a two-year period during the mid-1980s and occasionally smoked marijuana during the 1970s and '80s.

Diane Young was promoted to top cop of Oak Hill despite the embarrassment to the city when word leaked out that she had admitted on her job application that she snorted cocaine 100 times in a two-year period during the mid-1980s and occasionally smoked marijuana during the 1970s and '80s.

She was hired by then-Police Chief Gus Beckstrom, a failed candidate against then-Volusia County Sheriff Bob Vogel, who noted on her application that he checked with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and she had no felony arrests or convictions, despite the illegal use of cocaine, a felony, if convicted.

Despite Young's drug past, which apparently nobody on the commission had bothered to check on her application until the rumors started swirling, was named permanent chief on a 3-2 vote with support from then-Commissioner Bill Marcello and Commissioners Linda Hyatt and Kathy Bittle, both close friends of hers.

Oak Hill officials Mary Lee Cook and Darla Lauer.Photo by Sera Frederick / Darla Lauer and Mary Lee Cook were outvoted on the city commission in having Police Chief Diane young demoted or fired earlier this year.

Lauer and Mary Lee Cook, now the mayor, were vehemently opposed because of Young's drug past and the stigma of cocaine as the big taboo narcotic of law enforcement with the 1980s message of "Just say no," made popular by First Lady Nancy Reagan. 

The two commission dissenters said they also were opposed because Young had no prior supervisory experience having worked almost exclusively as the city's code enforcement officer, something Marcello thought of as a bonus -- "a 2 for 1 deal" -- that could save the city money.

Marcello dubbed the Orlando TV stations and local print media that followed her around for two days "the police paparazzi."

At that time, Young told NSBNews.net: "I think it's malicious -- I feel it's malicious. I never tried to hide anything. I felt my past was my past." 

Young further explained in that interview with NSBNews.net that she used cocaine over a two-year period between 1984-'86 after losing her job in the skydiving industry and sinking into an abyss.

But then at the age of 48, Young got an associate's degree in law enforcement and then went into the police academy. She applied for a job as a cop in Oak Hill and put the cocaine use on her application because "it was the right thing to do."

Lauer said that with all the turmoil in the police department that has now spread to City Hall, that "the right thing for Diane Young to do is step down for the sake of Oak Hill's reputation as the butt of jokes throughout Volusia County and beyond."

Lauer said that with all the turmoil in the police department that has now spread to City Hall, that "the right thing for Diane Young to do is step down for the sake of Oak Hill's reputation as the butt of jokes throughout Volusia County and beyond."

  

FAST FACTS

Quaaludes or methaqualone was a prescription drug used in the treatment of anxiety, called an anxiolytic, or to promote sleep. Methaqualone was a central nervous system depressant, and is comparable to barbiturates. When it was used in prescribed doses, it tended to promote relaxation, sleepiness, and for some, a feeling of euphoria. This euphoric feeling was one of the reasons that quaaludes, also known by their street name of “ludes,” began to be used as a recreational drug. They were a popular drug for abuse during much of the 1970s, though they became increasingly more difficult to find as both the U.S. and Britain began to tighten control around their use and dispensation. Concern over the abuse of quaaludes become so high that that drugs were withdrawn from the market in the U.S. in 1984.  Source: WiseGEEK.com
 
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About the Blogger

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via HeadlineSurfer.com, launched in 2008, as Florida's first around-the-clock online newspaper. Frederick is among Florida's most experienced reporters specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting and winner of multiple state, regional & national journalism awards in Florida, New York, Massachusetts & Connecticut. The first of his three books, "Creepy Ass Cracker" (842 pages, Xlibris), hits bookstores this Fall. 
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