Florida State Attorney Angela Corey fired Ben Kruidbos, the IT director at her office, after his testimony last month expressing concern that prosecutors didn’t give information to George Zimmerman’s defense team in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
A state attorney investigator hand delivered a letter to Kruidbos’ home on Friday. The letter stated that the information technology director did a poor job overseeing the department and violated public records law for retaining documents. It also noted Kruidbos was questioned in March when the office was trying to determine who had leaked personnel information obtained through a computer breach.
The letter, which was written by Cheryl Peek, the managing director of the State Attorney’s Office, included the following:
“Your egregious lack of regard for the sensitive nature of the information handled by this office is completely abhorrent. “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.”
Kruidbos’ attorney Wesley White, who left the State Attorney’s Office last year and is a critic of Corey, said the firing was done to send 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.
Kruidbos 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,” Kruidbos, who had been on paid administrative leave since May 28 from his $80,892 job. said, “but I am terrified about the future and what that will end up being.”
In January, Kruidbos 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.
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.
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.
Source: The Florida Times-Union