Palm Beach County prosecutor under investigation after internal complaints

Brian Fernandes (file photo)

One of Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg's top chief assistants is in hot water after numerous internal complaints.

Several people have complained about Brian Fernandes, according to an email sent by an attorney on Feb. 20. He said Fernandes' treatment of fellow attorneys "has detrimentally affected them."

In the email, the prosecutor describes how Fernandes "does not engage in a reasonable or logical discussion about the issues he had with them." It also states the other attorneys are made to feel "undervalued, underappreciated and inadequate."

Among the claims, the attorney said Fernandes set out to make an example of a veteran homicide prosecutor who made a mistake. Fernandes spoke openly about how he was going to "punish" her by making her cancel a planned vacation to work on the weekend, according to the email. That eventually led the prosecutor to later resign.

In another case, Fernandes forced another prosecutor to take over all of the homicide mental health cases "without any input, discussion, or regard" for her workload, the attorney said in his email. The workload took a toll on her to the point where she suffered from some ailment that forced her to take a medication "she never had to take in the past."

"We cannot continue to work in an environment where we do not believe we are treated fairly," the attorney said in the email. "We are presumed to be wrong before there is a meaningful, professional discussion about the issues and worry about the next time we will experience that type of treatment from Brian."

Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis, another one of Aronberg's top assistants, is in charge of the investigation.

The State Attorney's Office released this statement:

State Attorney Dave Aronberg takes these matters seriously and has directed Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis to complete a thorough investigation. The State Attorney has taken preliminary action while Adrienne's review is underway.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off