- Associated Press - Sunday, November 23, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Department of Children and Families says it didn’t know one of its child abuse investigators left his previous state job amid allegations related to bribery and strip clubs, according to a report by The Scripps-Tribune Capital Bureau.

The Department dismissed investigator Karlos Barnes last week, following questions by Scripps about about Barnes’ 2013 hiring and previous Division of Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco work (https://bit.ly/1tp5tvD ).

Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Alexis Lambert said Thursday that the agency decided not to retain Barnes passed his probationary period, which ended this month.

“This decision was made based on information obtained from (the agency that previously employed Barnes), which indicates he may not be suitable for a position of such special trust and responsibility,” she told the news organization.

The department has a policy of reviewing public personnel files before hiring. Barnes says the allegations against him at the alcohol agency are “completely untrue,” but that he respects the department’s decision.

“I don’t have anything to say, I pray for all of them,” Barnes said. “I don’t believe in dirtying someone’s name.”

Barnes resigned from the alcohol department in late 2010 after using a state database to conduct searches for unofficial purposes.

No charges were ever filed against him for his work there and an investigation was halted without explanation shortly after.

The 2010 investigation was conducted by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees alcohol and tobacco oversight. But the department’s inspector says he was never informed, as was required.

The department was trying to keep its year-long investigation “quiet,” according to a note on an email by former Inspector General Stan Branham, which Scripps obtained.

Branham said he thinks the agency didn’t tell him because it wanted to avoid publicity. Department officials said it was unclear why the inspector general was not informed.

When Barnes resigned, officials were looking into a number of allegations, including that Barnes may have been bribed by a strip club owner to help close down the rival Cheetah Club in Hallandale Beach, as well as that he assaulted a private investigator.

Barnes was part of a team investigating the Cheetah Club in 2008, when the investigation files went missing. That sparked a broader investigation into public corruption. The files were later found in Barnes’ car. He said they were copies and blamed the disappeared files on two other agents working on the investigation who later went to work for a law firm that represented the Cheetah Club.


Information from: Naples (Fla.) Daily News, https://www.naplesnews.com

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