Controversial web site operator and former Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Dougan has been told officially he is under criminal investigation and asked to talk with a sheriff’s investigator about the inner-working of his website, Gossip Extra has learned.
It publishes mainly public records showing what Dougan considers to be waste of taxpayers’ money at the sprawling agency. The site also allows the posting of often anonymous tips about unrest and strife within the agency, and criticism of Bradshaw and his right-hand man, Michael Gauger.
Dougan, a student pilot, has also organized the flying of banners calling Bradshaw a thief over SunFest and the recent nationally-televised Honda Classic golf tournament, a reference to the sheriff’s handling of his budget.
In a letter dated Monday, PBSO Internal Affairs investigator Mark Lewis admits to one of the worst-kept secrets in local law enforcement: That pbsotalk.com and Dougan are the targets of a criminal investigation!
Lewis’ letter doesn’t provide details but asks Dougan to make an appointment to visit PBSO headquarters on Gun Club Road.
“I would like to afford you the opportunity to come in and give me a statement,” Lewis’ letter reads. “If I do not hear from you within 10 days . . . I will consider that you are not interested in contacting me and give me a statement and move forward.”
It doesn’t appear at this point that Dougan, a former deputy, is interested in visiting his old employer.
“These are desperate times for Sheriff Bradshaw and his administration,” he said. “They have done everything . . . to silence a revolt within the agency and the deputies using my site as a conduit. They have resorted to personal attacks. They have engaged in threats and intimidation. They have destroyed a career and they have even tried to buy silence.
“They have no other valid course of action then to use the color of law against me to prove a point. Like each previously poorly-executed strategy, this will fail and have unintended consequences for the sheriff . . . When it makes it to court, having a jury will only result in six more people learning about my site and, therefore, the disgrace we have as a sheriff.”
The investigation already led to the arrest of former Internal Affairs Lt. Dean Johnson, who was ensnared in a sting operation set up to find whether he disclosed non-public information to Dougan and Gossip Extra.
While awaiting a resolution of the criminal case, Bradshaw took the unusual steps of suspending Johnson without pay, stripping him of his medical benefits and demoting him to sergeant.
Investigator Lewis didn’t return calls for comment and Bradshaw traditionally doesn’t comment on questions from news organization he perceives as inquisitive, including Gossip Extra.