Looking for Lucifer

Authorities use high-tech tactics to try to stop cyber critics bedeviling a city

Deetjen was dogged by allegations of corruption, mismanagement, and cronyism. Now his former loyalists who remain at the city — known to some as "Larry's Leftovers" — are under fire. Their numbers include Peter and Graham, who have been accused of poor management.

Mahaney responded to the dissension by hiring a new assistant public works director, Charles DaBrusco, a former administrator in Parkland. DaBrusco is in the process of investigating the department.

"I told him to find out what are we doing right, what are we doing wrong, and I've asked him to get specifics," Mahaney says. "I don't want to hear 'I don't like him.' I want specifics. Clearly, there are problems, but I come in with no preconceived notions. As far as I'm concerned, everybody in the entire organization comes in with a clean slate."

Even more recently, the city hired an auditor to investigate claims that millions of dollars have been misspent during the construction of a new public works building.

Adams has been a steadfast critic of Deetjen and the former manager's loyalists, whom he claims have continued a tradition of cronyism that reaches throughout the city.

He's not happy about being called to the carpet for his posted comment.

"I feel they violated my First Amendment rights," Adams says. "No public official should be beyond being criticized. This was management trying to get back at me for complaining about hiring practices."

Adams does, however, say he regrets mentioning a gun in his comment: "I never should have written that part."

On August 30, when Brown called him in for an interview at BSO, Adams says he didn't know what to expect. But the detective soon made it clear he was there to talk about the comment on the blog, which Adams didn't immediately admit to writing.

"These blogs are a chance for people to communicate, to vent...," Brown philosophized. "But when you hit 'send,' it's gone, and you can't take it back."

The detective explained his mission to Adams: "I'm the guy that's going to type this up and take it to the bosses. Now, I have to make the determination whether this is a guy who is maniacal and a liar, or am I dealing with a frustrated employee?"

Then he went into the spiel about the FBI — though it's not clear that the feds were involved in the case — and asked the key question:

"Did you write that, the blog right there? It's very important."

"I did write one, but I don't know if that's it," Adams replied.

"You know what you wrote, Wayne. Don't cross that line with me."

"If I did write it, listen to me closely: I didn't mean nothing about shooting someone."

"There's a chance you didn't write it? ... It's a hot topic with the whole city right now. It's a hot topic."

Brown showed Adams the evidence he'd compiled from Google and BellSouth.

Adams again told him that he never meant anything as a threat.

"You know what I think you meant it as? A figure of speech," Brown said, his stance suddenly softening. "It's simple mathematics here. I've heard that figure of speech before. It's a way of saying 'the shit will hit the fan if you don't do something.' "

Then Brown distinguished himself from the city "bosses":

"We work off the law; they work off politics. You're not going to get railroaded here," he assured Adams.

Brown and his BSO bosses determined that no crime had been committed, which I think was an obvious call. They forwarded their findings to Mahaney, who suspended Adams for one day without pay. The city, meanwhile, has begun a process to install new security measures in its public works buildings.

But there's still one aspect of the BSO investigation that remains a mystery: Someone calling himself "Lucifer" has sent more than 100 harassing Nextel text messages during the past year to Peter and Graham.

An example of one sent to Peter:

"U incompetent fuck! Donate your check to the Red Cross, you don't fucking deserve it."

At the end of Brown's interview with Adams, the detective indicated to Adams that he had traced the Nextel messages to his computer.

"We also subpoena text messages... and it's coming right back to you," Brown told Adams.

It was a detective's trick; the text messages couldn't be traced because they'd been sent via Sprint Nextel's website.

Adams vehemently denied sending the text messages, and Brown ultimately said that he never really suspected Adams of it. The real culprit, Brown believes, is a supervisor in Adams' department.

The latest known message from Lucifer was sent on September 28.

"Take this message to BSO motherfucker," the harasser wrote to Graham — who promptly did just that.

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