By Burnie Thompson
May 21, 2020
PANAMA CITY BEACH – Bay County Commissioner Tommy Hamm asked a deputy sheriff to arrest a Nikki Higby and two members of her family on May 4 because she posted on Facebook that he ripped her off nearly $10,000.
Hamm, a homebuilder, hired Higby Construction as a subcontractor for his company Winterfell Construction.
Higby Construction, owned by Nikki Higby, primarily did paint work for Winterfell Construction but also built shelves and installed baseboards, crown molding, and light fixtures.
Hamm sent an email to Higby Construction on April 30 that he would withhold all the money until they “corrected” some of the paint work.
Fearing Hamm would not pay for their services, they said they could not agree to his conditions.
Nikki took her grievance to Facebook that night and accused Hamm of dishonest dealings. Her sister Heavenly Jacobs did the same thing.
Hamm asked the deputy to charge Nikki, her sister, and their father Rick Higby with threatening, harassing, and slandering him and his project managers Brian Peterson and David Peterson.
The deputy denied Hamm’s requests, stating that Hamm was “not being threatened or harassed in any way.”
On May 1, Nikki posted on #850 Strong’s Facebook page that she was preparing a lawsuit against Hamm because he refused to pay her for services rendered. She asked others who “have been a victim to Winterfell Construction” to contact her as well.
“He saw me as a weak young woman and took advantage of me,” she wrote.
A nasty exchange ensued as Hamm’s wife Jamie and Brian’s wife Debbie responded, culminating with Debbie Peterson posting the arrest record of Nikki’s father in the comment section along with one word: “Checkmate.”
The Facebook post was deleted that same night.
The next day Hamm’s project manager Brian sent text messages to Nikki’s father:
Brian: “You’re bringing yourself down. <laugh emoji>
Rick: “We shall see” <thumbs up>
Brian: “You have quite the record there my boy.”
Rick: “Sure do. Your point?”
Brian: “Oh you’ll find out soon enough.”
Rick: “Whatever ….” <laugh emoji>
Rick: “You have no right to try to rip people off, regardless of a record.”
Later in the email exchange with Brian, Rick sent an angry text:
Rick: “You are lying sack of shit, you don’t own a business, David does. Either way we’re about to start bringing y’all down along with your slimy piece of shit friend Tommy. Business aside, I can’t believe what a bunch of cowards y’all are.”
On May 1, Hamm sent a Cease and Desist email on Winterfell Construction letterhead to Nikki and her family. So did Brian Peterson and David Peterson.
On May 4, a BCSO deputy called Nikki and her family.
They said the deputy ordered them not to communicate with or talk about Hamm and his associates anymore. They said they were told that the only way to communicate with Hamm would be through an attorney.
After I requested the incident report from the BCSO on the morning of May 11, the deputy called Nikki and her family a second time. This time he asked for their side of the story.
I obtained the final incident report later that afternoon indicating that the matter was closed.
That night I called Commissioner Hamm but he didn’t answer. I sent a text message asking if we could talk about his dispute with Higby Construction.
Hamm replied: “I can’t we have an ongoing investigation.”
Nikki Higby is pursuing legal action to collect the $10,000 for services rendered.
Florida Statute 112.313(6) prohibits politicians from using their official position to obtain a special benefit.
Hamm sought to prevent Higby Construction from requesting payment by asking the deputy to charge them for threatening a public servant.
The Commissioner invoked his public office in an attempt to leverage power in a civil dispute.
Thankfully for Nikki and her young daughter, the deputy denied Commissioner Hamm’s outrageous request to throw her in jail.
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