Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Elder Affairs attorney quits amid questions about hiring, arrests

TALLAHASSEE — A top-level attorney at the Department of Elder Affairs has resigned after a lawsuit filed by a former human resources employee accused the state of bending rules to hide his arrest history.

Attorney Don Bell was arrested five times between 1973 and 2002 on charges including a drug offense and driving under the influence. He was convicted at least twice.

While the Florida Department of Law Enforcement screened Bell twice as part of his application for the job in December 2011, human resources employees halted standard hiring procedures, according to a lawsuit filed by former state employee Fran Brooks.ww

The lawsuit claims Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Charles Corley and Bell — who had already been hired — ordered human resources employees to shield Bell from further vetting that might expose his record to other employees.

The department also skipped Bell's state of Florida application and did not turn over Bell's arrest history to the department's legal office, as is policy, state documents show.

Bell was recommended for the $98,000-a-year job by Gov. Rick Scott's former chief of staff, Steve MacNamara.

The Tampa Bay Times reported on the lawsuit on Saturday. On Monday, Corley announced Bell's resignation while testifying at a Senate confirmation hearing. Corley told lawmakers that the state followed all of its procedures and that the lawsuit is being waged by a "disgruntled former employee."

"There was nothing that violated procedures of the department or statutes or state or federal regs," Corley said in response to questions from Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater.

The Department of Elder Affairs provides dozens of services to elderly people, from financial and legal advice to helping them sign up for Medicare.

As lead attorney, Bell defended lawsuits against the department, oversaw its internal legal needs and facilitated legal services for the elderly.

Steven R. Andrews, Brooks' attorney, said Bell's resignation will not affect his decision to continue the lawsuit.

"It's an acknowledgement that he should have gone through the background check," Andrews said. "It's sad, but it's an admission."

Contact Brittany Alana Davis at bdavis@tampabay.com or 850-323-0353.

Elder Affairs attorney quits amid questions about hiring, arrests 04/08/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 8, 2013 9:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs

     Winner of the week

    Peter Antonacci. Gov. Rick Scott tapped his go-to utility player to lead his Florida job recruiting agency, Enterprise Florida, having previously picked him for his general counsel, to lead the South Florida Water Management District and to serve as Palm Beach state …

  2. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 19: A peregrina spends the whole day under the weather, and part of the day under the table

    Travel

    Day 19: El Burgo Ranero to Puente Villarente: 25.4 km, 7.5 hours (Total for Days 1-19 = 454 km (282 miles)

    This list pretty much sums up my day:

    Eat two bananas

    Walk 13.1 kilometers

    Nap

    Walk 6.2 kilometers

    Nap

    Eat half an apple

    Walk 6.1 kilometers

    Crash< …

  3. Storm routs Cleveland

    Storm

    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  4. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  5. Rowdies shut out Charleston

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.