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Top prosecutor at Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office under investigation

Posted at 7:05 PM, Feb 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-27 09:21:03-05

A shake-up within the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office. Contact 5 has confirmed one of the top prosecutors is under investigation, for what sources call his "extreme" management style.

Multiple sources tell Contact 5, nearly two dozen people in the State Attorney's Office have complained about Chief Assistant State Attorney Brian Fernandes. Sources further tell Contact 5, Fernandes seemed to take pleasure in demeaning and berating people.

Contact 5 obtained an email from one prosecutor, written on behalf of the attorneys he oversees, telling 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.

Multiple sources told Contact 5 State Attorney Dave Aronberg personally met with as many as 20 people in the office to discuss their concerns. 

Contact 5 has confirmed Fernandes is no longer in charge of several high profile units, including homicide and special victims, as well as 4 others, where staff complained about his treatment of them. 

The State Attorney's Office told Contact 5, those changes are part of a "restructuring."

The State Attorney's Office further shared this statement with Contact 5:

"State Attorney Dave Aronberg takes these matters seriously and has directed Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis to complete a thorough investigation. The State Attorney has taken preliminary action while Adrienne's review is underway."

The State Attorney's Office would not go into specifics about what the investigation is looking into. 


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