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Governor's office keeps prison report into alleged corruption on the shelf

Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 2:37pm

@jknipebrown

Florida's chief inspector general is refusing to release an investigation that sources say will exonerate four veteran law enforcement inspectors who allege they were threatened and retaliated against for trying to expose corruption in the Department of Corrections.

FDOC Inspector General Jeffery Beasley launched the probe into possible misconduct by the inspectors after they uncovered a possible cover-up in the 2010 death of a 27-year-old inmate at Franklin Correctional Institution.

When they tried to pursue criminal charges last year in connection with the death, Beasley allegedly filed complaints alleging they had botched two other unrelated criminal cases, according to a federal whistle-blower lawsuit filed by the inspectors in July.

Chief Inspector General Linda Miguel, who was informed by the inspectors of Beasley's threats, denied the inspectors whistle-blower protection, but did agree to take the internal affairs complaint out of Beasley's hands. She ordered that the case be probed by another agency, the inspector general's office for the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Their investigation, conducted by F&W inspector Amy Schmidt, was completed in early June and turned over to Miguel, several sources have told The Herald. Three months later, with just weeks before the election, Miguel has failed to explain why it remains on her desk, other than to say that it isn't finished.

Thomas Winokur, assistant general counsel for the governor, said in a statement to Miami Herald attorneys Tuesday that "the investigative report is not complete. Appropriate action will be taken when the report is final.'' He would not elaborate.

Bonnie Hazleton, from the Governor's Office of Open Government, told the Herald a week earlier that Miguel "does not conduct internal affairs investigations into law enforcement agencies.'' So it remains unclear exactly who is conducting the "open'' investigation.

DOC Inspector Aubrey Land, a 30-year veteran law enforcement officer, told Miguel, in a recorded interview in April that a FDOC official was part of the cover-up into the Franklin inmate's death.

"My skin don't crawl very often. They killed that kid. He laid there five hours begging for help,'' Land told Miguel.

The inmate, Randall Jordan-Aparo, was repeatedly gassed in a confined cell at the prison in September 2010. His death was initially ruled by natural causes. It has since been reopened by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI is also involved in the case.

Photo: Melinda Miguel

-- By Julie K. Brown

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