FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – A ﬁred Florida health department data manager charged with illegally accessing state computers after she publicly accused ofﬁcials of wanting to make COVID19 statistics look less dire has reached an agreement with prosecutors that should result in the case being dropped.
Rebekah Jones, who helped design the state’s coronavirus website, signed an agreement with prosecutors admitting guilt to a charge of illegally accessing the state’s computer system and requiring her to pay $20,000 to cover the investigation’s costs, perform 150 hours of community service and see a mental health counselor monthly. If she completes those requirements, the charge will be dropped within two years. The agreement was ﬁled late last week at Tallahassee’s circuit court.
IF SHE COMPLETES THOSE REQUIREMENTS, THE CHARGE WILL BE DROPPED WITHIN TWO YEARS. THE AGREEMENT WAS FILED LATE LAST WEEK AT TALLAHASSEE’S CIRCUIT COURT.
Press ofﬁce did not immediately respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.
Jones, 33, received national attention in early 2020 when she sowed doubt about the information being reported by the state when Florida was an epicenter of the pandemic.
She publicly suggested that she pushed back when health department managers wanted her to manipulate information to paint a rosier picture as DeSantis pushed to reopen Florida businesses earlier than most other states and keep restrictions light in small, rural counties.
Health department ofﬁcials denied Jones’ allegations and she was ﬁred for violating regulations barring employees from making public statements without permission. About six months later, the computer message was sent, starting the investigation that led to her arrest.