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PTC top staffer resigns after F-bomb texts made public

PTC Chief Inspector Brett Saunders resigned after this text message exchange became public.

Courtesy image

PTC Chief Inspector Brett Saunders resigned after this text message exchange became public.

9

February

The Public Transportation Commission’s highest ranking staffer, who sent expletive-laden cellphone text messages that aimed F-bombs at the former PTC chairman and a state lawmaker, is resigning.

PTC Chief Inspector Brett Saunders this week sent a resignation letter to PTC Chairman Al Higginbotham His last day will be Feb. 17.

It comes days after his text message exchanges with former PTC chief Kyle Cockream came to light through a public records lawsuit filed against the agency.

In the texts sent to Cockream’s personal phone in October and November, Saunders and Cockream joked about throwing former PTC chairman Victor Crist onto a bonfire.

Saunders also sent a text to his boss that called Crist a "f------ idiot," and he hurled a similar expletive about state Sen. Dana Young.

The text messages were “undeleted” from Cockream’s personal cellphone by a forensic investigator.

The phone was one of eight that the PTC sent to Valrico firm Data Specialist Group in October just weeks before the agency was required to give Cockream's phone to the investigator hired to extract public records.

The investigator found that the phones had been reset, a process that wipes them clean. He was recently able to undelete some texts using an online backup account..

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement  has opened a preliminary inquiry into the PTC's handling of public records that is expected to focus on whether public records were illegally deleted.

A former Sheriff’s Office sergeant and Florida Highway Patrol trooper, Saunders joined the PTC in 2015 and was earning about $71,000 a year, records show.

[Last modified: Thursday, February 9, 2017 4:07pm]

    

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