Prosecutors have decided not to file criminal charges against a former Pinellas child welfare investigator who was accused of falsifying records on the job.
Jennifer De Jesus, 38, was arrested in April on a felony charge of falsifying records.
Pinellas deputies said De Jesus, who worked at the sheriff’s office in her role as a child protection investigator, put misinformation in a report while handling a call to a daycare. She told her supervisor that St. Petersburg police had responded to the call, but the police did not arrive on the scene and De Jesus put an invalid case number in the report, the sheriff’s office said.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Kendall Davidson said prosecutors found misinformation, but said it did not rise to the level of a criminal violation. Davidson said Florida law requires prosecutors to prove that the falsification of the records could negatively impact the safety, wellbeing or health of the person involved in the incident. This particular incident did not meet that standard, he said.
De Jesus did not respond to requests seeking comment.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that detectives did not find any other instances of De Jesus putting misinformation in reports. De Jesus resigned at the time of her arrest, so the sheriff’s office did not conduct an administrative investigation, which is separate from a criminal investigation and would determine any internal discipline she would receive.
Gualtieri said prosecutors have a different set of requirements than law enforcement when deciding whether to pursue a criminal case. To make an arrest, law enforcement must prove that it’s more likely than not that a crime was committed. Meanwhile, prosecutors must prove beyond a “reasonable doubt” that the person committed a crime, he explained.
The state attorney’s office decision not to file charges doesn’t mean deputies did anything wrong or that there wasn’t probable cause to make the arrest, Gualtieri said.
“They make their decisions. We make ours,” he said. “They’re not necessarily consistent and they look at it from a different perspective.”