Palm Beach County prosecutor demoted after investigation into aggressive management style

Brian Fernandes. (File image)

One of the chief assistant state attorneys was demoted this week after a month-long investigation found his management style to be “heavy-handed and intimidating.”

Brian Fernandes was under investigation after several internal complaints came to light.

Fernandes was stripped of all personnel management responsibilities after it was found that his style was “over-aggressive” and “inconsistent” with the policies of the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office read the conclusion by Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis. His pay was also reduced.

State Attorney Dave Aronberg directed Ellis to head up the investigation and she took on an external employment counsel to help get to the bottom of the case.

According to internal memos, the investigation conducted more than 25 interviews.

The external counsel, from Williams, Leininger and Cosby, said Fernandes’ actions led to “poor morale and a possible exodus of staff.”

The external counsel did praise Fernandes’ experience and skills and noted the high value he represented to the office. That value coupled with the fact that no illegalities were found were reasons the investigation gave to not terminate the now former chief assistant.

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