Investigation into Public Defender moving slowly

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With an August 29 deadline nearing, the special prosecutor appointed a year ago to investigate Public Defender Matt Shirk is nowhere near done with his investigation.

According to a spokesperson for State Attorney Bill Cervone, whom the governor appointed in 2013 to look into a variety of allegations involving Shirk, the prosecutor's work is "nowhere near being done."

Deputy Chief Investigator Darry Lloyd, spokesperson for the 8th District State Attorney's Office, told First Coast News the office will likely request a delay in the August 29 deadline set by Gov. Rick Scott.

Cervone was appointed last August after a weeks of turmoil in Shirks office, including admitted inappropriate behavior with female staffers, workplace drinking and allegations of potential public records law violations. Shirk's chief of staff subsequently resigned, and his wife has since filed for divorce.

Cervone has been in town a few times in recent weeks, and courthouse observers believe he's been presenting witness testimony to a Duval County grand jury. Lloyd declined to comment on grand jury speculation, but did confirm that the August deadline will not be met. "It was a very broad request for inquiry," he said of the governor's executive order. "And we are not close."

The Shirk investigation is one of eight special investigations that Cervone is heading at the moment, in addition to his office caseload. Among the eight is another high-profile investigation from Northeast Florida. Former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Agent Rusty Rodgers is accused of official misconduct in the investigation of the death of Michelle O'Connell. That investigation order came with an August 9 deadline, which Lloyd said also would need extending.


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