DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A charging affidavit implicating Daytona Beach Assistant City Manager Gary Shimun in a reverse prostitution sting has been forwarded by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office for review before he is issued a summons by mail to appear in court to answer a misdemeanor charge of assignation under Florida's prostitution statute.
Shimun, 60, a married man, quickly fired off a letter of resignation after Thursday's reverse sting. He was hired by City Manager Jim Chisholm 26 months ago. Headline Surfer is awaiting receipt of his letter of resignation from the municipality.
Headline Surfer is the first media outlet to report on this breaking news story that had city officials tightlipped.
An official with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office confirmed it had filed a charging affidavit accusing Shimun of making arrangements to hook up with a female prostitute in a hotel, who unbeknownst to him, was really an undercover cop.
"Your information regarding the sting operation is correct," Sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson confirmed in writing after Headline Surfer made a public records request seeking confirmation that Shimun was implicated in a reverse prostitution sting Thursday where one of more undercover women cops posed as prostitutes hooking up with customers seeking sexual favors in exchange for money. "It was conducted on Dec. 14 by the East Volusia Narcotics Task Force and Daytona Beach Shores and resulted in a charging affidavit being filed on Shimun for the misdemeanor charge of assignation."
Under Florida Statute 796.07(2), the crime of assignation to commit prostitution is committed when a person makes an appointment or engagement for prostitution or lewdness, or any act in furtherance of such appointment or engagement. If convicted of Assignation to Commit Prostitution with no prior prostitution convictions, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties: Up to 60 days in jail; up to six months of probation and up to $500 in criminal fines.
Headline Surfer was tipped to Shimun's alleged sexual indiscretion by one of the media outlet's trusted sources, whose information checked out as "very credible" by secondary sources. Then Headline Surfer went to the proper authorities to get the criminal allegations against Shimun confirmed.
But first, here is what the primary source said occurred.
"They almost nailed him in the hotel where he went after making arrangements through texting to meet with what he thought was a prostitute," the source told Headline Surfer earlier this afternoon, "but he got suspicious and bolted. Turns out he was an assistant city manager, Gary Shimun, who fired off a letter of resignation, after he was pulled over."
The source told Headline Surfer that Shimun "lawyered up right away so they decided to send the charging affidavit to the state attorney's office to make sure everything is done right. But they've got him on the assignation through his texts. There's no way he can get out of this."
Shimun could not be reached for comment. Neither could his former boss, City Manager Chisholm, who did not return calls and email messages for comment.
But Chisholm's administrative PIO, Susan Cerbone sent Headline Surfer Shimun's letter of resignation.
Here is a synopsis of the law enforcement prostitution operation went down as explained by VCSO's Davidson, the senior PIO for Sheriff Ben Johnson:
"The reverse prostitutions operation had two elements. One element targeted prostitutes who use the classified advertising web site backpage.com to advertise their services," Davidson said. "Four females were arrested during that part of the operation and taken to jail -- three on charges of aiding, abetting or committing prostitution and one on a charge of solicitation to commit prostitution. The other element of the operation targeted “johns’ through advertisements posted by female undercover officers."
Davidson said Gary Shimun is accused of responding to one of those ads, "which resulted in our filing of the assignation charge against him with the State Attorney’s Office. We realize that there may be questions about why these four defendants went to jail and Shimun didn’t. So let me address that up-front. During the operation, Shimun is accused of sending some explicit text messages to one of our female undercover officers for the purpose of setting up a meeting in order to exchange sex for money."
Davidson continued:" Shimun showed up at the agreed-upon location, but at some point became suspicious and left before consummating the transaction. Because this was happening in real-time and additional cases that were part of the same operation were being worked simultaneously, investigators weren’t able to immediately review all of the text messaging to determine whether the contents of the messages provided sufficient evidence to effect an arrest. Because of that, the decision was made to let him go at that time."
However, Davidson pointed out, "Afterwards, when the contents of the text messaging were examined, it was determined that there was sufficient probable cause to file a criminal charging affidavit with the State Attorney’s Office. The ultimate charging decision at this time rests with the State Attorney’s Office, as is appropriate in circumstances such as these. However, had the investigators been able to immediately conclude their review of the contents of the text messaging on the night of the operation, Shimun would have gone to jail along with the other defendants."
The four arrested and booked into the Volusia County jail onb prositution-related charges were Bonnie Gilbert, Elizabeth Hasle, Javonshanay Ward and Christen Williford