I keep hearing that FL State Attorney Angela Corey is a Republican – but everything about the vile woman screams Corruptocrat, to me. She fired her office’s information technology director Friday after he testified in June that he was concerned prosecutors did not turn over certain information to George Zimmerman’s defense team in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
On the same day attorneys finished their closing arguments in that nationally watched trial, a state attorney investigator went to Ben Kruidbos’ home about 7:30 a.m. to hand-deliver a letter stating Kruidbos “can never again be trusted to step foot in this office.”
The letter contended Kruibos did a poor job overseeing the information technology department, violated public records law for retaining documents, and noted he was questioned in March when the office was trying to determine who had leaked personnel information obtained through a computer breach.
In an interview Friday, Kruidbos denied the allegations in the letter, which was written by Cheryl Peek, the managing director of the State Attorney’s Office.
He said he had acted in good faith about “genuine concerns.” He said he had been proud to work at the State Attorney’s Office and feared the letter would cripple his chances at finding another job to support his family, including a 4-month-old son.
“I don’t have any regrets,” he said, “but I am terrified about the future and what that will end up being.”
His attorney Wesley White — who resigned from the State Attorney’s Office in December and is a critic of Corey — said the firing was aimed at sending a message to office employees “that if they feel like there is wrongdoing,” they should not disclose it or seek legal guidance from a private attorney.
“If they do speak to an attorney, then they are dead,” he said. “The State Attorney’s Office will do whatever is necessary to not only terminate them, but destroy their reputations in the process.”
Jackelyn Barnard, spokeswoman for Corey and the State Attorney’s Office, did not return phone calls or emails for comment.
Kruidbos, 42, had been on paid administrative leave since May 28 from his $80,892 job.
In January, he used computer software technology to extract photographs and text messages from the source file in Martin’s cellphone. Kruidbos was able to recover more information than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement obtained previously.
GETTING LEGAL ADVICE
Kruidbos said he became concerned that lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda might not have turned over Kruidbos’ report to defense attorneys. Kruidbos asked White in April for legal advice and described some contents of his report such as a photo of an African-American hand holding a gun, a photo of a plant resembling marijuana and a text message referring to a gun transaction.
White then contacted one of Zimmerman’s attorneys and learned the defense had not received the report generated by Kruidbos. The defense did receive the source file from the cellphone and used its own experts to extract data.
Last month, Zimmerman’s attorneys subpoenaed both White and Kruidbos during a pretrial hearing on their motion seeking sanctions against prosecutors. Circuit Judge Debra Nelson deferred a ruling until after the trial.
Before Kruidbos’ name surfaced in the Martin trial proceedings, he received a pay raise for “meritorious performance,” according to a document dated May 16 in his personnel file.
But the dismissal letter written by Peek contends he did his job poorly as information technology director and said he should have asked someone in the office about his concerns regarding the Martin case.
“Your egregious lack of regard for the sensitive nature of the information handled by this office is completely abhorrent,” Peek wrote. “You have proven to be completely untrustworthy. Because of your deliberate, wilful and unscrupulous actions, you can never again be trusted to step foot in this office.”
The letter said Kruidbos “apparently questioned the ethics” of de la Rionda, who has been an assistant state attorney since 1983. “His record as an honorable and respected attorney is unblemished and beyond reproach,” Peek wrote.
Kruidbos said the question of de la Rionda’s ethics “is not really my place to decide.”
He said he asked White for legal advice because he was concerned he could face “legal exposure” if the cellphone report wasn’t turned over to the defense before the trial started.
He said he did not feel comfortable posing that question to anyone within the office because the State Attorney’s Office had just conducted an in-house probe of whether someone was leaking personnel information.
Read the rest, here.