Gov. Rick Scott's chief watchdog was warned about a possible cover up of two inmate deaths, but did nothing about it.
According to a Miami Herald report, Melinda Miguel, Scott's chief inspector general, received an anonymous letter in late 2012 about the suspicious deaths of two inmates incarcerated in Florida.
But instead of opening an investigation, she turned the letter of the the inspector general at the Department of Corrections. They, in turn conducted a cursory review. By the time the letter got to Scott's office, the investigation was closed.
The Herald says the anonymous letter was received in October 25, 2012 which detailed the gruesome death of Randall Jordan-Aparo, who was held at Franklin Correctional Institution in 2010 and of Darren Rainey, held at Dade Correctional in 2012.
The letter, written by a "high-ranking'' DOC employee and postmarked from Orlando, tells of how Jordan-Aparo was taken to solitary confinement after acting up. There he was gassed twice by corrections officers. The inmate was later found dead in the cell.
Another part of the letter, which has been redacted, talks of another "ugly" death and cover up.
According to the Herald, a prison warden was fired in July for his handling of an investigation into the scalding death of one of the inmates mentioned in the letter.
A spokesman for Gov. Scott did not immediately respond to questions about the report, but Miguel sent out a statement addressing the letter and investigation.
"When OIG [office of inspector general] staff looked into both matters, there was already an ongoing investigation on both incidents by state and local authorities, which takes precedence over an administrative review,'' she said. "Moreover, as the complaint was filed anonymously, and no specific evidence was provided, we could not interview the complainant to obtain further information or specific details."
Update: Rick Scott's office sent out a press release to "set the record straight" on the Herald's report, calling it misleading.
The press release says there is sill active investigations underway and gives a timeline of events:
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
Today, the Miami Herald misled on the role of the Chief Inspector General (CIG) in criminal proceedings, and underreported the role of law enforcement in investigations. The CIG has no law enforcement authority and is purely an administrative entity. Administrative entities do not interfere with law enforcement investigations.
"Right now, there are still active criminal investigations underway on both deaths. These cases are not closed. The Chief Inspector General does not interfere with investigations by the F.B.I., the U.S. Department of Justice, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the Miami-Dade Police Department. They are all lead on these criminal investigations - not the Chief Inspector General. The CIG is coordinating with the lead agencies to ensure that justice for these individuals and their families is done." - Frank Collins, Communications Director
TIMELINE Please note on the timelines: The anonymous letter was received AFTER criminal investigations had already commenced.
Aparo Investigation Timeline: Sept. 2010: Randall Jordan-Aparo dies at Franklin CI Sept. 2010: FDLE Opens Investigation April 2012: State Attorney Declines Prosecution July 2012: FDLE Closes Aparo Investigation Oct. 2012: Anonymous Letter Received Sept. 2013: FDLE Reopens Investigation with F.B.I. - *Currently Active*
Rainey Investigation Timeline: June 2012: Darren Rainey dies at Dade CI June 2012: Miami-Dade Police Department Opens Investigation - *Currently Active* Oct. 2012: Anonymous Letter Received
Key Facts of the Chief Inspector General Role:
· The Chief Inspectors General's (CIG) role is to review administratively whether rules or laws are broken in state government. Should CIG findings determine there's been a breach of law - their findings are referred to law enforcement.
· The CIG is authorized to determine whether protocols are properly followed or protocols should be changed, not conduct criminal investigations.
· They often cannot interview individuals implicated in criminal investigations. Criminal investigations are led by law enforcement - not the CIG. Law enforcement often requests the CIG stands down for fear that additional administrative activities could compromise criminal investigations.
The letter was obtained by the Herald via a public records request.