PORT ST. LUCIE — Prosecutors are debating whether to charge government critic Victoria Huggins with perjury in a state investigation that determined her allegations against the Police Department are "false, or without evidence."
Huggins claimed she was physically threatened, her motorcycle brake lines were cut and her personal computer was hacked to obtain controversial emails about Mayor JoAnn Faiella.
Assistant State Attorney Lev Evans said officials hadn't decided whether to file perjury charges. Conviction on a charge of perjury in an official proceeding is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, he said.
"Her allegations of computer hacking and cut brake lines are clearly false," Evans stated in an internal memo released Wednesday that outlines Huggins' claims and the office's investigation. "Other allegations, such as the allegation of PSLPD steroid use, and the police officer threat in the parking lot, are without credible basis and are not worthy of further investigation."
When investigators questioned Huggins about several inconsistencies in her testimony, she replied, "Good one," Evans' memo states. Her response was "disturbing" and is "an acknowledgment that she was untruthful and indicates a lack of remorse," he wrote.
In a sworn, recorded interview to the State Attorney's Office in August, Huggins claimed someone hacked her Yahoo! email account in June, giving her computer a virus that attempts to steal sensitive information. She also testified that a police officer threatened her outside City Hall July 9, that she believed 35 officers were on steroids, and that she suspected her motorcycle brake lines were cut by Joe Edge, a 2010 mayoral candidate who was running against her at the time.
Huggins, who has made a name for herself for digging up information on and filing complaints against Treasure Coast politicians, said she stands by her claims and believes the state attorney's findings damage her credibility as a community watchdog. She declined further comment until she speaks to the State Attorney's Office.
"I know my emails were hacked," Huggins told Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers on Wednesday. "How else did they get them?"
At a July 9 council meeting, resident Anthony Valicenti read three emails between Huggins and Faiella. The emails indicated Faiella attempted to conspire with Huggins to "set up" City Attorney Roger Orr and collect what Faiella called "amo" against former police Capt. Joe D'Agostino, who later was laid off.
Huggins claimed two of the three emails were released to the public without her permission and sent an email complaint on July 14 to Orr, Police Chief John Bolduc and City Manager Greg Oravec accusing the Police Department of illegally accessing her private emails.
Bolduc asked Huggins to file a formal complaint with the Police Department, but she took her complaint to the federal level instead, fearing the Police Department had hacked her computer, according to the memo. The FBI declined to investigate, the memo states.
Huggins told Bolduc a Yahoo! representative told her the account had been accessed from an Internet Protocol (IP) address — a numeric label assigned to electronic devices connecting to the Internet — traced to a civilian employee of the Police Department.
The State Attorney's Office, which subpoenaed Huggins' Internet records from Yahoo! and Comcast, said the IP address Huggins provided to investigators never accessed her email account. In the sworn interview, Huggins attempted to clarify that Yahoo! didn't give the IP address to her, but she obtained it through an access log in her account settings.
Huggins also claimed her account was inaccessible June 19-21 when the alleged hacking occurred, but investigators reported that she accessed her account 48 times during that period. The report also stated her claims she received a computer virus via a Portable Document File (PDF) from the city were also false given a PDF can't support the specific virus she alleged.
Huggins' allegations against Edge also include claims he harassed her, attempted to break into her house and stalked her children, "cyberbullying" them on various websites from 2006-2010. According to the memo, Huggins stated there were no witnesses to back up her claims, and she never notified the police about Edge's alleged activities because she had been berated by the police in the past and believed the police were protecting Edge.
Investigators interviewed Mark Hodges, manager of Hodges American Motorcycles responsible for repairs on Huggins's motorcycle, and found her brake lines had not been cut.
"Ms. Huggins has made some troubling and false allegations against me that I consider slanderous and categorically deny each
and every one of them," Edge said Wednesday. "That being said, I have referred the matter to my attorney to pursue my legal remedies in civil court."
Bolduc, who asked the state attorney's office for assistance in looking into the investigation to avoid the appearance of a cover-up, said he received the state attorney's office memo Tuesday, and he's happy the case is closed and the Police Department validated.
The investigation cost the state more than $1,000, the memo states. Bolduc said it was an incredible waste of taxpayer money.
"I knew I had not hacked into anyone's email accounts and I was very confident none of us had," Bolduc said. "I'm very happy the investigation bore that out.
Huggins reportedly told investigators she's being treated by a psychologist and a neurologist for a condition that causes difficulty in recording dates. "She stated that she must eat the same thing for breakfast each morning so that she knows the day is going to be the same as yesterday," the memo states.
The memo also said Huggins was unable to stay on topic throughout the interview and "her ability to reason seems distorted."
"Mrs. Huggins' statements about her neurological condition, her obsession with the comments section on the local newspaper Internet site and her intense feelings against Joe Edge, cannot be overlooked as possible causes for baseless and incredible allegations," states the memo.
Reporter Tyler Treadway contributed to this report.