Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FDLE opens inquiry into former Hillsborough PTC chief's handling of public records

    

Cockream’s phone was reset, an investigator reported.



TAMPA — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has launched a preliminary inquiry into a former Public Transportation Commission chief's handling of public records less than three weeks after closing an investigation into whether his agency was too cozy with taxicab companies.

The new inquiry is expected to focus on whether public records were illegally deleted from Kyle Cockream's agency cellphone. A forensic investigator reported recently that the phone Cockream used for almost a year had recently been reset, a process that wipes it clean. FDLE officials said they had received information about the case from the PTC.

"We're looking at the new information," spokeswoman Jessica Carey said.

Cockream's phone was handed to a forensic investigator in November to extract public records, including text messages, requested in June by a Sarasota law firm. The firm sued the PTC in September for not fully complying with the request.

At a hearing last week, a judge gave Cockream five days to provide the investigator access to an online account that backs up phone records to see if he can retrieve missing data.

Cockream, who stepped down as PTC chief at the end of December, has yet to comply with the order, according to Hillsborough County attorneys who are representing the PTC in the lawsuit.

On Tuesday, Cockream's private attorney, Michael Carey, filed a motion asking the judge to overturn that decision or to at least give Cockream more time to comply.

The former PTC chief was not represented at the hearing and was deprived of his constitutional due process rights, the motion states. On Tuesday, he was added as a separate party to the lawsuit.

In a report included in a court filing, computer forensics firm E-Hounds CEO Adam Sharp stated that Cockream's agency phone was reset on Oct. 8 and then restored with no data from before Sept. 2.

An invoice shows the PTC paid $2,994 to Valrico firm Data Specialist Group for "Mobile Device Data Recovery." It lists Cockream as the customer and was paid on Oct. 12 with a PTC credit card. Cockream authorized the payment.

The invoice does not specify whose phone was given to Data Specialist or what work was performed.

Neither Cockream nor Carey returned calls requesting comment.

An earlier FDLE investigation into whether Cockream and the agency he led were too closely aligned with the taxicab and limo industry it regulates was closed Jan. 3. It was requested by state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, after a Tampa Bay Times story revealed that taxi and limo drivers posed as Uber and Lyft customers in PTC sting operations.

That FDLE investigation found no evidence that Cockream benefited from the collaboration or that any law had been broken.

"The issues above would better be suited to be reviewed by the Florida Commission on Ethics," the report stated.

Contact Christopher O'Donnell at codonnell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.

FDLE opens inquiry into former Hillsborough PTC chief's handling of public records 01/18/17 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2017 11:38am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa police investigating shooting in Temple Heights

    Crime

    Tampa police are investigating a shooting early Tuesday morning.

  2. Who is really making 'Chihuly art'?

    Visual Arts

    SEATTLE — More than 40 years later, Jeffrey Beers still vividly remembers what it felt like to have Dale Chihuly call up to convene a pre-dawn glassblowing session. You felt flattered and inspired, he said, jazzed by Mr. Chihuly's caffeinated freight train of energy and the idea of making art with him while most …

    The artist Dale Chihuly in his Seattle office, which holds some of his collections. [Kyle Johnson | for The New York Times]
  3. Judge throws out $458,000 condo sale, says Clearwater attorney tricked bidders

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold on Monday threw out the $458,100 sale of a gulf-front condo because of what he called an "unscrupulous" and "conniving" scheme to trick bidders at a foreclosure auction.

    John Houde, left, whose Orlando copany was the high  bidder June 8 at the foreclosure auction of a Redington Beach condo, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground,  during a hearing Monday before Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold.  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times ]
  4. Vision Zero plan to make Hillsborough roads safer to be unveiled

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Vision Zero, the coalition trying to make Hillsborough County safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, is set to unveil its action plan on Tuesday morning.

    Members of the Vision Zero workshop cross Hillsborough Avenue and Kelly Road during a on-street audit of Town 'N Country roads in January. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |   Times]
  5. Pasco EDC names business incubator head in Dade City, will open second site

    Business

    Pasco County economic development officials are busy reigniting their business start-up resources following the departure earlier this year of Krista Covey, who ran the Pasco Economic Development Council's SMARTStart business incubator in Dade City.

    Andrew Romaner was promoted this summer to serve as program director of the Dade City SMARTStart Entrepreneur Center, a start-up incubator service of the Pasco Economic Development Council. He succeeds Krista Covey, who relocated to Texas for another startup position. [Courtesy of Pasco EDC]