OCALA, Fla., August 7, 2013 — Wesley White is a man on a mission.
Last December, he resigned his post as lead prosecutor in Nassau County, home to some of Jacksonville’s wealthiest suburbs. His boss was Angela Corey, who has gained worldwide attention for her failed prosecution of George Zimmerman.
“Citing budget concerns, (Corey) planned to retreat from her campaign pledge to the people of Nassau County by eliminating the director’s position and having the Nassau office run by lawyers who lived outside Nassau County,” White explains.
“She wanted me to head up white-collar crime from the Jacksonville office … (and) to sue the City of Jacksonville over the build-out of what is planned to be the (State Attorney’s Office’s) future offices — a project marked by design demands of Corey,” he elaborates.
White describes the overall experience of working for Corey as “mixed.” When asked about many Jacksonville-area lawyers’ reported concern that if they speak out against Corey’s tactics, then her office might treat their clients in a negative manner, he remarks “that’s not an altogether groundless concern.”
After Corey had been assigned to the Zimmerman case, former American Bar Association President Sandy D’Alemberte claimed, in so many words, that she was a bad choice for the case as she is unconcerned with justice.
“I would not have worked for/with her if I believed she was ‘unconcerned with justice’,” White says. “However, her approach and understanding of what justice means continues to diverge, to a larger and larger degree, from that of many lawyers (including myself).”
Eventually, White could no longer stand working for Corey and, after his letter of resignation was accepted, followed up with this statement: “I wish to gently and respectfully remind you that you and your administration will be judged more by the promises that you keep than by your victories and defeats.”
Today, White serves as counsel to Ben Kruidbos. The latter is suing Corey for over $5 million dollars on the basis of wrongful termination. He served as information technology director in her office and was fired after his testimony during a Zimmerman pre-trial hearing.
Immediate past Jacksonville-area State Attorney Harry Shorstein knows Corey far better than most. He fired her for workplace misconduct the year before his retirement. In a bizarre twist, Corey would be elected his successor.
Shorstein says, “(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+.”
“Ben was not the source of the ‘pension fund leak.’ Nor was he in the loop with respect to that issue,” White says.
The facts lead White to believe that Corey’s motivation for terminating Kruidbos was “revenge.” He claims that such professional behavior “is not out of character” for her.
“(A)n investigator with the SAO delivered Peek’s termination letter to Ben Kruidbos’ home at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Friday July 12th,” White specifies. This letter was written by Cheryl Peek.
Peek was forced out of her job in the State Attorney’s office 20 years ago for corruption, in circumstances that are reflected in allegations against Corey’s office today. “Ms. Peek reflects Ms. Corey’s management style and ethics — not the character or level of integrity of line prosecutors,” White says. “(Peek) was in fact allowed to resign because she profiled a jury pool as not looking intelligent enough to decide a case.”
White has requested that Governor Rick Scott launch an independent investigation of Corey’s office.
Corey is a cash donor to Scott, as well as Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Corey publicly appeared with Scott during the 2010 gubernatorial race and served as a campaign chair for Bondi during that same election cycle. Scott would appoint Corey special prosecutor in the Zimmerman case under Bondi’s advice.
Despite his past with Corey, White is adamant that his “focus is on Ben. The elevated walkway is not related. My present concern is her posting of Ben’s termination letter on the SAO’s website which is a fairly definitive display of unbridled rage. Sadly and unfortunately her spite is merely racking up more damages. Not surprisingly, Corey’s family and friends have been blogging anonymously, attacking Ben, and trying to push her narrative without risking the probing questions of (journalists).”
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