Top prosecutor at PBC SAO removed as chief - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Top prosecutor at PBC SAO removed as chief

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Contact 5 has confirmed Brian Fernandes, former Chief Assistant State Attorney for Palm Beach County, has been removed from his position, effectively immediately. 

Contact 5 was the first to break the news that Fernandes was under investigation, for what sources call his "extreme" management style, and in some cases, verbal abuse.

That investigation was concluded Thursday. State Attorney Dave Aronberg released this statement: 

“Upon receiving the first complaint about the management style of Chief Assistant Brian Fernandes on February 7th, we immediately launched an investigation, headed by Chief Assistant Adrienne Ellis, along with outside employment counsel, Jim Williams of Williams, Leininger & Cosby, P.A.

The investigation is now complete, and I have implemented the recommendations of Ms. Ellis and outside counsel.

Brian Fernandes has been demoted with a cut in pay. He has been permanently removed from his position as Chief Assistant and will no longer supervise any employees of the State Attorney’s Office.

Craig Williams, who leads the Felony trial division, has been promoted as the newest Chief Assistant, joining Chief Assistants Adrienne Ellis and Alan Johnson.

Our office remains committed to the highest standards of justice and ethics to protect public safety.”

A spokesperson for the State Attorney's Office says Fernandes' new job title is assistant state attorney.

Ten days ago, multiple sources told Contact 5, nearly two dozen people in the state attorney's office complained about Fernandes. Sources further tell Contact 5, Fernandes seemed to take pleasure in demeaning and berating people.

Part of what sparked the investigation was a letter sent by prosecutor Greg Kridos, written on behalf of the attorneys he oversees. He told Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, "Brian (Fernandes') style of management and the way he has treated my attorneys has detrimentally affected them." 

In the letter, the attorney writes that "Brian manages by fear and intimidation," and says people have left the prosecutor's office because of Fernandes. The letter also mentioned one attorney became sick because of Fernandes and his management style. 

WPTV is continuing to follow this story. Stay tuned for more details regarding the investigation file. 

 

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