JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Governor Rick Scott just turned up the heat on a top local official after our investigation revealed possible wrongdoing in the public defender's office.
The governor signed an executive order Thursday, appointing a special prosecutor to review Public Defender Matt Shirk's office. The investigation began when Action News started asking questions last month about alleged misconduct inside the Jacksonville Public Defender's Office.
Normally, State Attorney Angela Corey would review alleged misconduct in her district, but Corey requested Governor Scott recuse her from this case citing the daily case load between her office and public defender.
Granting Corey's request, Governor Scott signed an executive order appointing State Attorney Bill Cervone to the case.
Cervone is now the man in charge of "potential prosecution and all matters related to allegations of public records laws violations and any related misconduct in the Office of the Public Defender," according to the executive order.
Cervone is President of the Florida Prosecuting Attorney's Association serving the district covering Alachua, Baker, Bradford and Union counties. He's now the man tasked with investigating the possible violation of state laws within the office, questionable use of taxpayer dollars and the ethical behavior of Matt Shirk.
The Public Defender's Office has brought in a private law firm to review how it handled requests for public records. Rogers Towers, P.A. will do that work at no charge. The firm is not representing Shirk personally.
Shirk has not responded to our repeated requests for an interview.