Florida’s Citrus Dept. Has New Leader After Chief’s Arrest

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) –Florida’s Department of Citrus has a new leader.

Shannon Shepp has been named interim executive director of the department, replacing Doug Ackerman who resigned Monday following his arrest last week on a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge.

Shepp, who was moved into the interim position Wednesday by the Citrus Commission, has been the department’s deputy executive director since August 2013.

“Her appointment today was without controversy,” Florida Citrus Commission Chairman Marty McKenna said in a prepared statement. “She has served our industry well for many years, and she will continue to do so now in this interim role. We aren’t hitting a ‘pause button.’ It’s still full speed ahead.”

Shepp came to the department after 12 years with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. That included serving as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s deputy commissioner responsible for the divisions of Plant Industry, Fruit and Vegetable.

Ackerman submitted his resignation Monday, noting in a letter to McKenna that he had lost the confidence of McKenna and the commission.

McKenna had asked for the resignation a day earlier, advising Ackerman in a letter that “your conduct this past week demonstrates that your continued service as executive director is no longer in the best interest of the commission or the department.”

Ackerman, who had a $191,000 a year salary, was arrested July 15th following a crash in Polk County, according to The Ledger newspaper.

Ackerman, in his resignation letter to McKenna, noted he has issues related to post-traumatic stress disorder. Ackerman served in the U.S. Army Reserves during the first Gulf War and in Afghanistan in 2008. He had been hired less than four years ago by the commission. He previously worked as an executive with Lakeland-based Publix.

The turnover comes as the state’s orange production across Florida has hit a record low.

(The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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