Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bureaucratic abuse in Orange County

From time to time, CourtWatch comes across cases that appear, on the surface, fairly straightforward. And then we encounter cases that are rather complex. This is one such case. This is the story of one man’s apparent attitude of entitlement and members of the County government that seem to support and perpetuate that attitude.

Farling Rivera, a secretary in the Probation Unit of Orange County Corrections has been married to William Rivera, Manager of Human Resources for Orange County Corrections, for 7 years. They work in the same building and are currently in the throes of a divorce.

On February 1, 2010 the Orange County Sheriff’s Department was called to the Rivera home for an alleged domestic violence situation. Once Mr. Rivera identified himself and his position with Corrections to law enforcement, the deputies chose not to arrest either party and indicated that they believed it to be a situation of mutual combat. Mrs. Rivera subsequently applied for a temporary injunction. Mr. Rivera reciprocated 3 days later. A hearing date was set for March, with no temporary injunction granted to either party.

In March, Judge Bronson denied William’s request to return to the home in order to retrieve additional personal belongings.

A permanent injunction was granted to Farling on June 1, 2010 for six months.

On June 2, 2010, OCSO Deputy Luna served the final injunction on William and told him that he was not to return to their mutual place of employment. Rivera defied the court order the following day by coming to the work address (which was prohibited by the court order) and remaining there, with Management’s knowledge, for approximately 6 hours. When he learned that a deputy was on the way to arrest him for violating the injunction that afternoon, he was aided and abetted by Corrections Management to elude them. He was escorted to a golf cart that quickly took him to his vehicle so that he might evade arrest.

William has returned to the home, which is expressly prohibited by the injunction, on several occasions. He repeatedly told his wife that he was very powerful and that she could not stop him from doing what he wanted. Sadly, it appears as though the County is sending her the same message.

CourtWatch is shocked at the conduct of Corrections managers by their collusion with an employee in his effort to evade arrest. CourtWatch is also disappointed at how the Office of Professional Standards and the County Attorney’s Office have responded to our inquiries relating to the conduct of Corrections management in this matter. We are perplexed as to why the County Attorney, whose job it is to interpret the law and represent the County, has to ask Corrections what they can release to us in response to our public records requests under Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes. Finally, CourtWatch is extremely concerned that there appears to exist either (1) a gross lack of documentation or (2) an effort to withhold information from our organization by the Sheriff’s Department as it relates to the times they were called to the Rivera residence.

Mr. Rivera is clearly well connected with law enforcement in our community. The apparent abuse of power by him and others on his behalf should not be condoned. It would indeed appear as though Mr. Rivera’s position has given him preferential treatment by several County agencies.

A comprehensive timeline of events, and supporting exhibits is available at the links below:
  • Timeline of events
  • Exhibit A: February 1, 2010 police report
  • Exhibit B: June 3, 2010 police report
  • Exhibit G: Memo 6/8 from Sr. Corrections Officer Smedley to Management detailing his concerns regarding their handling of the situation
  • Exhibit I: Response 6/8 from Jill Hobbs, Acting Deputy Chief of Administration
  • Exhibit H: CourtWatch correspondence 6/29 with Commissioner Brummer requesting investigation
  • Exhibit C: CourtWatch correspondence 9/24 - 9/26 with County Attorney's Office
  • Exhibit D: CourtWatch correspondence 9/29 with Office of Professional Standards
  • Exhibit E: Sheriff's Department report 9/30 showing no calls for service all year to the Rivera home
  • Exhibit F: CourtWatch correspondence 10/5 with County Attorney's Office
It should also be noted that only AFTER the media began to inquire about this situation last week, did CourtWatch receive a copy of the 6/8 email from Corrections Officer Smedley to Management that we verbally requested on 8/26. It was made available for pickup 10/12.

A motion to dismiss Mr. Rivera’s criminal case 2010-MM-010839-A-O (violation of injunction) was denied without prejudice on October 11, 2010. The prosecution is in its early stages and a trial date has not yet been set.

CourtWatch intends to not only follow the court cases until they are concluded, but also pursue accountability for the county officials whose collusion with a high ranking Corrections Department official has left his victim in fear for her safety.

Mr. Rivera's next court date is 11/24/10 for a Motion to Modify the injunction in the Domestic Relations case.


  1. This may surprise all of you, but unfortunately not me. I would love to share my story of Orange County's blatent disregard for the law and their endless instanes of misconduct. My family has been manhandled by the system for 21 months now...

    It's sad, but this story is very real. It embarrases me to be a constituent of a county on a power trip with no oversight, and no checks and balances.

  2. Orange County Corrections are above the law, in their mind and actions. Helping Mr. Rivera abscond the building before the police arrive to arrest him for violating an injunction. I was not given such an option. I was arrested in the building, in front of my family. My crime...I went to MY house when I was forbidden, same as
    Rivera. I was arrested, no bond until saw a judge. Why was he not?? Again, the rich get special treatment.

  3. Check with any corrections employee. They will know of the many abuses of power of management. From being charges with nepostism where an internal investigation substantiated all charges and Chief Tidwell signing of on "no action Taken against hobbs pittman and giltner. An underling would have been fired or at least severley disciplined. now the Rivera issue with Hobbs ordering Rivera to leave, a crime in itself. Could it be aiding and abetting, obstruction of justice!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I have to say this should outrage any public official or agency involving criminal supervision. The documentation of crinminal activity, cover up and preferential treatment on the part of corrections administration is amazing. I see this posting was done on 11-10-10. It does not look like there's been much activity. I'm concerned that this will fall through the cracks and the domestic violence perpetrator and administration will just get away with criminal actions.
    We have a new incoming County Mayor. Teresa Jacobs has made it clear that integrity is going to be priority for her administration. Although this bureaucratic abuse took place under the current Mayor, I think it would be important for Mayor Jacobs to see the level of unprofessional conduct of upper management that will be serving under her. What a horrible management team to inherit!
    Please continue with your work to make sure this case just doesn't disappear with no consequence for the management of corrections.
    Do we just need to picket the county admin building and ask for the termination of corrections administration? Post the time and date and I'll be there.

  5. Mayor-Elect Jacobs, as well as the new Commissioners Jennifer Thompson and Ted Edwards and current Commissioners, have all been provided with this information and encouraged to review it for follow-up. Court Watch would encourage you to e-mail or contact the Mayor-Elect and Commissioners with your concerns and request as a taxpayer that they do an investigation in to Corrections Management.