Action News Jax investigates: City Councilman calls deleted data from tablet of JEA high-ranking official ‘criminal’

Committee investigating failed sale of JEA recommends subpoenas for five people

JEA records possibly deleted

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax is looking into new questions asked by a special City Council committee investigating the failed attempt to sell JEA.

It was revealed Monday during a meeting that Shawn Eads,  the former Chief Information Officer for JEA “acknowledged” during previous testimony, he deleted data from the tablet of former Chief Financial Officer Melissa Dyke by entering the wrong password multiple times.

“I don’t know if it was intentional,” said Scott Wilson, a member of the special committee to Action News Jax Ben Becker. “At first sight, I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

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However, Councilman Rory Diamond, who is also on the committee sent out a Tweet saying in part “In my opinion, this is criminal.”

Eads attorney Eugene Nichols sent Becker this statement:

“Our office has the pleasure of representing Mr. Eads regarding his employment with JEA. Further, our office is aware of the disappointing statement by Mr. Diamond on Twitter regarding Mr. Eads and the suggestion an I-pad was intentionally deleted. We continue to welcome the investigation of the City Council, JEA and all other entities. Mr. Eads has taken every step requested by all agencies and, following the completion of all investigations, we look forward to addressing with Mr. Diamond directly his allegations.”

Becker text-messaged Dykes, but did not receive a response.

This committee also wants to hear from five men -  Sam Mousa, Tim Baker, Michael Munz, Alan Howard, and Kevin Hyde – and voted unanimously to recommend the City Council rules committee issue subpoenas to find out who knew what and when about the controversial JEA sale.    

Mousa, Jacksonville’s former Chief Administrative Officer under Mayor Lenny Curry, started Mousa Consulting Group when he retired from the City,  a lobbying firm that was listed as a lobbyist for NextEra Energy, one of JEA’s potential buyers.

Tim Baker is a long time Curry political strategist, who sat in on closed-door meetings with JEA officials and was a NextEra Energy consultant as well.

Both have been asked previously to voluntarily give testimony, but both have declined

Alan Howard is a former JEA board chairman who resigned last July. His law firm was hired by JEA to help with the privatization effort. Michael Munz is an executive from Dalton Agency and Kevin Hyde is an attorney with Foley & Lardner, one of the law firms hired to help with potential bids.

Becker left phone messages with Mousa and Howard and never heard back. Baker told Becker via text message that he had “no comment” since he did not see the Zoom meeting but told Becker he will reach back out if he is able to see it.

Councilman Wilson says the special committee wants to eventually make legislative changes but any criminal charges will have to come from the federal investigation now happening.

“If there is no finding of criminal activity, we will never know what happened on that side,” said Wilson.

The utility previously filed a lawsuit against its ousted former CEO Aaron Zhan.

In addition to the federal grand jury probe and the City Council investigation into JEA and Zhan, Jacksonville’s Inspector General is also investigating.