- Florida Sheriff Wayne Ivey was sued by David Gay for defamation.
- Ivey hosts a weekly “Wheel of Fugitive” segment on social media, in which he spins a wheel with up to 10 supposed fugitives.
- According to the lawsuit, Gay was falsely referred to as a “fugitive” in four videos.
A man has filed a defamation lawsuit against Florida Sheriff Wayne Ivey – known for his weekly “Wheel of Fugitive” segments on social media – and the sheriff’s office, saying his name and photo appeared multiple times in Ivey’s videos when he was not a refugee.
In the segment inspired by the game show Wheel of Fortune, the Brevard County Sheriff spins a roulette wheel with the mugshots of up to 10 suspected fugitives. He then reads the person’s allegations out loud, encouraging them to “do the right thing” and speaking up themselves, and urges viewers to call or email tips to find them. The segment debuted in 2015, according to local outlet Florida Today.
Gay pleaded no contest of a felony offense in 2020. He was sentenced to three years probation at the time, but violated his probation in 2021 after being arrested on suspicion of bodily harm against his father. Gay spent several weeks in the Brevard County jail before those charges were eventually dropped. He was never a fugitive, he said in the lawsuit filed in Brevard County last week. But Ivey quoted him in four separate “Wheel of Fugitive” episodes between January and February 2021.
Ivey’s characterization of him as a fugitive caused depression and anxiety, he said.
Gay “remained at his home as much as possible for fear that the public and/or the police would stop, harass, verbally and physically threaten or arrest him,” the lawsuit states. He also said he was fired after his employer saw him in a Wheel of Fugitive video.
Gay is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
This isn’t the first time the show has included the names and pictures of people who aren’t refugees. In a 2021 analysis of a year’s worth of episodes, Florida Today found 60 people in 45 episodes who were incorrectly introduced. According to the publication’s findings, 41 of the 45 episodes contained “at least one non-fugitive,” and for a segment released on November 3, 2020, seven of the ten “contestants” were non-fugitives.
In 2017, Ivey told the outlet the de facto true crime game show was “designed to engage our community” and said it “worked almost perfectly.” Ivey told the outlet “about 88%” of the suspects either turned themselves in or were discovered through tips from citizens.
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.