The real target of a super-secret operation by the Palm Beach County State Attorney and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to plug leaks to two websites about Internal Affairs investigations potentially damaging to Sheriff Ric Bradshaw‘s administration tells Gossip Extra that yesterday’s arrest of a longtime lieutenant smacks of political vendetta.
State Attorney Michael McAuliffe announced that Internal Affairs Lt. Dean Johnson was charged with four felonies pertaining to his alleged disclosure of supposedly secret information published on Gossip Extra and the law enforcement site pbsotalk.com.
The probable cause affidavit against Johnson put out by McAuliffe spells out the role of an unidentified confidential informant – a PBSO sergeant, Gossip Extra has learned — and a John Doe described as a “former sheriff’s deputy who’s the subject of the criminal investigation.”
That John Doe is Mark Dougan, owner and operator of the often outrageous pbsotalk. The site allows deputies to post anonymously their beef with PBSO.
Dougan is also the sponsor of an anti-Bradshaw campaign that kicked off yesterday with the flying of a banner above the Honda Classic that read: “Our sheriff is a thief.”
He is planning to continue flying banners through the summer. Another one reading “The sheriff commits felonies” is scheduled to go up over Sunday’s finale of the golf tournament.
Dougan, a former deputy who worked in the Belle Glade district, says he figured out he was the target when he matched the dates and times of phone calls from the confidential informant to him with what’s documented in the affidavit.
“What the state attorney and the sheriff are doing is plain ugly,” Dougan said. “It’s tax-funded attack on the press.”
Dougan’s lawyered up.
“This is a clear infringement of the freedom of speech,” said Robert Gershman, Dougans’ attorney. “Mark found out he was the target by piecing things together. I’m reaching out to prosecutors right now to try to figure out what’s going on.”
Three months ago, Gossip Extra revealed how investigators of the State Attorneys office had tried to hack Dougan’s website and tried to access his databases with Dougan’s old passwords from his time at PBSO.
Bradshaw’s second-in-command, Chief Deputy Mike Gauger, said the investigation that already netted Johnson is continuing and couldn’t comment.
The Burrows scandal has been particularly damaging to Bradshaw, who’s in the middle of his reelection campain. The sheriff didn’t order a criminal investigation into Burrows’ actions until the day after Gossip Extra revealed that Burrows was allowed to go to rehab for an addiction to oxycodone.
Privately, PBSO sources were telling Gossip Extra that higher ups in the department were tried to cover up the accusations that Burrows, a union representatitve, stole pain killers and a rifle from his former deputy in the last stage of his battle against cancer.
Developing . . .