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State attorney won't pursue case against agency

Conservative state prosecutor Willie Meggs is not a fan of the state agency that defends death-row inmates.

But that doesn't mean he's going to investigate it.

In a strongly worded letter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Meggs said that he will not pursue a criminal case against the Office of the Capital Collateral Representative, and that the management of the agency is none of his _ or FDLE's _ business.

"As you know, this office was not a supporter of the establishment of CCR, nor have we supported CCR since it has been in existence," Meggs wrote to FDLE last week. "However, how they run their office, the effectiveness, management and direction the office takes should not be an investigative matter for the state attorney or FDLE."

FLDE officials had suspected criminal activity at CCR and had requested Meggs' involvement because they can't issue subpoenas.

Meggs refused.

"Based on the information presently available there does not appear to be a basis for the use of the subpoena power by the state attorney. The use of this authority should be carefully guarded," Meggs wrote to Jamie McLaughlin, director of executive investigations at FDLE.

McLaughlin would not comment Monday on the tone of Meggs' letter.

But he said FDLE will not close its investigation without giving CCR employees another chance to come forward with any information about criminal activities.

"We'll .


. indicate subpoenas will not be forthcoming and give them one last opportunity to say what's on their mind," McLaughlin said.

If no one comes forward, the case will be closed.

FDLE opened the investigation of CCR in June at the request of Gov. Lawton Chiles' general counsel. The request was made based on allegations of criminal and unethical conduct by CCR employee Paul Harvill, who came forward under Florida's whistle-blower's act.

FDLE interviewed Harvill and decided that nothing he alleged could be considered criminal activity, according to a Sept. 18 letter that McLaughlin wrote to Meggs.

However, a confidential informant told FDLE of alleged misconduct on the part of CCR employees that included "coerced, contrived, or untruthful witness statements knowingly incorporated into proceedings, the intentional misleading of the courts, and the delay of cases for the sake of delay."

The informant said the misconduct was similar to allegations made when former Gov. Bob Martinez ordered an investigation of CCR in 1988. At that time, FDLE concluded it could not prosecute because most of the witnesses were felons whose testimony was weak

Meggs' decision not to get involved in the current case discouraged Harvill.

Although Meggs suggested that complaints about unethical conduct be taken up with the Florida Bar or Florida Commission on Ethics, Harvill said Monday that he doesn't know whether he wants to go that route.

"I've got to move on in my own life," said Harvill, who was fired from CCR in July and is still looking for a job. "I think enough exposure has been made concerning the behavior of people at CCR that everybody who is a player is now on notice that CCR needs to be more closely scrutinized."