Angela Corey is being sued by the whistleblower she fired

Ben Kruidbos testified that Corey broke the law while prosecuting George Zimmerman and was fired shortly after. Photo: Associated Press

OCALA, Fla., August 2, 2013 — Angela Corey, the special prosecutor in George Zimmerman’s murder trial, is being sued by a former employee she fired after he testified against her handling of evidence in the case.

Corey fired Ben Kruidbos, her office’s information technology director, after his June 6 pre-trial testimony in which he revealed information concealed from Zimmerman’s defense team by the prosecution. His termination letter included allegations of serious workplace misconduct such as violating public records laws. However, the allegations conflict with the kudos Corey’s office gave Kruidbos on May 16, when he received a pay raise for “meritorious service.”

Kruidbos’ termination letter was delivered to his home the night that attorneys made their closing arguments in the Zimmerman trial. The letter said that Kruidbos did a poor job in overseeing the information technology department. 

The information allegedly concealed by Corey includes evidence found on Martin’s cell phone. This evidence consists of photos of marijuana, Trayvon Martin blowing smoke, and Martin gripping a firearm. Kruidbos alleges that Corey fired him in retaliation for revealing the existence of this evidence, and is seeking $5 million in actual and punitive damages from the prosecutor. He filed his lawsuit on Thursday in Jacksonville, where both he and Corey are based.

Corey has not yet released a statement about the lawsuit. Her spokeswoman, Jackelyn Barnard, has not responded to requests for information from the press.  

Cheryl Peek, the managing director of the State Attorney’s Office, wrote in Kruidbos’ termination letter, “Your egregious lack of regard for the sensitive nature of the information handled by this office is completely abhorrent,” adding, “You have proven to be completely untrustworthy. Because of your deliberate, wilful and unscrupulous actions, you can never again be trusted to step foot in this office.”

Corey’s predecessor as Jacksonville prosecutor, Harry Shorstein, observed, “(i)t is understood that in the course of his duties, Ben discovered evidence that should had been turned over to the defense. He took it to a lawyer who turned it over. It is also believed he may have been the one, or with others, who leaked her wrongfully taking $340,000+.”

The “$340,000+” refers to Corey’s pension, which Jacksonville’s Times-Union newspaper reported was improperly padded. Kruidbos speculates that an investigation of security breaches in the prosecutor’s office was launched in response to the paper’s allegations last March. 

Kruidbos’s attorney, Wesley White, declined reappointment to the State Attorney’s Office in December and is sharply critical of Corey. He cited his dissatisfaction with her administration in his December 7 letter formally refusing reappointment. White did not reply to a request for comment.

Robert Zimmerman, George’s younger brother and de facto spokesman, said last month, “It’s my understanding now that Mr. Kruidbos has filed suit. Obviously, that means he disagrees with Mrs. Corey’s decision. I’m concerned that other people like him, now or in the future, who are doing what they believe is ethical, might incur the wrath of vengeance.”

Far-left? Far-right? Get realRead more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto 

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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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