PALM COAST — Thirteen months ago, Kimberle Weeks had a phone conversation with Florida Secretary of State Kenneth Detzner. She asked his permission to record the conversation and Detzner refused the request, which was corroborated by a group of witnesses who were with Detzner and listening to the conversation, authorities said.
Weeks secretly recorded it anyway and more than a year later, she was indicted for that crime and 11 other crimes related to illegal recordings, according to state investigators.
The former Flagler County elections supervisor also illegally captured a private conversation between two county officials on her iPhone on Aug. 25, 2014 after the public meeting they were attending had moved to another room, prosecutors and investigators said.
When word of that recording reached Tallahassee, investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement started digging deeper. They confiscated Weeks’ phone and computer hardware after serving a search warrant in October at the elections office in Bunnell, prosecutors said. Following a seven-month investigation, Weeks was indicted on 12 felony counts by a Flagler County grand jury.
The State Attorney’s Office on Friday released a redacted copy of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s investigative report, containing 51 documents, to The News-Journal.
Weeks’ attorney, Joerg Jaeger of Orlando, declined to comment when contacted by phone Friday. Weeks could not be reached.
Also confiscated during that October search was a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard, a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun, which was concealed inside Weeks’ purse, according to the report. After all the evidence was collected and inventoried, the FDLE returned the firearm to Weeks, investigators said. Records don’t disclose whether Weeks has a concealed weapons permit, but she was never charged with a firearm offense.
Concealed weapon licenses are regulated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. As of July 2006, the list of names of residents who hold such licenses is not open to public record, according to the agency’s website.
Grand jurors on May 5 concluded that Weeks, on seven total occasions, recorded conversations with state and local officials without their consent. On five more occasions, Weeks illegally distributed those recordings, according to the indictment. Each charge is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Weeks resigned as the Flagler County elections supervisor in January while she was under investigation. She was arrested May 6 and is free on $12,000 bail, according to jail records. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The case began Sept. 23, 2014, when the State Attorney’s Office forwarded to the FDLE’s Office of Executive Investigations an email it had received from a News-Journal reporter “containing questions concerning the recording” Weeks had made of a private conversation between Flagler County Attorney Al Hadeed and Flagler County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen during a Canvassing Board meeting about four weeks earlier. Ericksen was a Canvassing Board alternate.
Various people were interviewed by state inspectors, including Weeks, Hadeed, Ericksen and other witnesses to public board meetings.
One of the witnesses interviewed was Flagler County Commissioner George Hanns, who also had a seat on the Canvassing Board. When the board members exited the conference room to the area where the votes were being tabulated, Ericksen and Hadeed remained in the conference room. Weeks’ recording device picked up their conversation, according to the investigative report.
Inspectors said no advance notice was given that the meeting was being recorded.
After Hanns returned to the conference room, he could be heard on the captured audio saying, “She’s not taping anyway,” according to the investigation.
During his interview with FDLE inspectors, Hanns said he was in “total shock” when he learned the private conversation was recorded, one of the reports shows.
Investigators said the Aug. 25 meeting lasted close to four hours, but only about two hours and 25 minutes were recorded. Weeks, through an attorney, was asked to hand over the entire four-hour recording to FDLE, but Weeks stated in an affidavit she had used her phone to record the meeting and had turned the phone recorder on and off throughout, according to the investigation.
Weeks also is accused of illegally recording conversations she had with Assistant State Attorney Gerry Hammond, Palm Coast City Clerk Virginia Smith and Holly Hill Police Sgt. Michael Coomans. Weeks’ iPhone also recorded a phone conversation that Flagler County Judge Melissa Moore Stens had with another person after a Canvassing Board meeting had adjourned, investigators said.
Not every recorded conversation was with a government official. Weeks also recorded a private conversation in her front yard with a woman, Shannon Brown, whose ex-husband was dating Weeks’ daughter, according to the investigation. Authorities said Brown believed Weeks was trying to dig up information about her ex-husband and Brown was unaware she was being recorded. [Original Article]