After an altercation that allegedly took place at a political event Thursday night, Altamonte Springs police are looking to press battery charges on Seminole County Tax Collector Ray Valdes.
Valdes was being interviewed by a political blogger, Jacob Engels, who asked him if he had hired his sister-in-law, which would be nepotism. The blogger was filming Valdes’ answer with a cell phone.
“You’re a liar and my sister-in-law does not work for (me),” Valdes responded, according to a WFTV 9 story. “You’re lying.”
Then Valdes allegedly grabbed Engels’ wrist and took his cell phone.
According to Lt. Robert Pelton with the Altamonte Springs Police Department, Valdes was not on scene when law enforcement arrived later.
He said the Altamonte Springs Police were looking to file a battery charge against Valdes. He added that Valdes had not answered calls from them as of Friday morning, either.
In addition to the nepotism concerns, Valdes has also been criticized in the past for using his position as tax collector to buy up old homes in which the owners failed to pay taxes and sell them for personal profit, according to an Orlando Sentinel article.
The Seminole County Tax Collector’s office could not be reached via phone Friday morning, as all of the county’s lines were down.
According to Valdes’ attorney Robert Fisher, Valdes is currently trying to identify other people in the room at the time of the altercation who could possibly shed light on what really happened. Fisher added that the video in the WFTV 9 report was incomplete.
“And the video speaks for itself,” Fisher said. “It’s not complete. It appears somebody has edited it prematurely. It does not pick up where my client returned Engels’ phone to Engels.”