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A Florida man has filed a defamation lawsuit against a Florida sheriff who posts weekly “Wheel of Fugitive” videos on social media.
According to the lawsuit, the complainant says that he wasn’t a fugitive when his name and image appeared several times in 2021 in the sheriff’s posts inspired by the long-running TV game show “Wheel of Fortune.”
David Gay is seeking more than $50,000 in damages because he says the sheriff’s posts cost him his job and caused emotional distress.
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The lawsuit was filed last week in state court in Brevard County.
According to the lawsuit, Gay’s prospective boss called him as he was driving to his first day of work and told him not to bother showing up as he had seen Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey’s “Wheel of Fugitive” videos.
Gay was taken into custody for violation of probation in January 2021 after he had been arrested several weeks earlier on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge. He says he believed his father had gotten into a physical altercation with his mother, and the case was dismissed eventually.
However, while Gay was in jail for the violation of probation arrest, Ivey said in a “Wheel of Fugitive” video that Gay was a fugitive, when in reality, the man was already in the Brevard County Jail, according to the lawsuit.
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Gay was featured in three more episodes of “Wheel of Fugitive,” including on the day after he was sentenced to probation under the same terms that previously had been imposed and was released from custody, the lawsuit said.
“Wheel of Fugitive started around 2014 and has an 88% success rate in getting fugitives off our streets,” said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey in 2021. “The program is designed to engage our community and works very well as you might imagine. In fact, fugitives even watch it themselves every Tuesday night at 8:00 to see if they are on the wheel or are selected as the Fugitive of the Week!”
In addition to Wheel of Fugitive, Sheriff Ivey does a weekly show titled ‘Fishing for Fugitives.’
“I go to various fishing spots in our community and cast a rod and reel with a pair of handcuffs on it. We haul in what we call the catch of the day and ask our citizens to help us hook’em and book’em,” said Sheriff Ivey.
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