Criminal Justice

Transcript: Legal assistant fired by prosecutor's office was admittedly present at drug transactions

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A longtime legal assistant in the narcotics division of a South Florida prosecutor’s office lost her job earlier this month after a tip to the Broward County State Attorney’s office that she might be involved in “illegal drug activity.”

A subsequent investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement neither confirmed the tip nor exonerated Ginger Downs. But in an April 7 interview with a prosecutor, after an immunity grant, the 49-year-old implicated herself, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

The same day, she was fired after 20 years at the prosecutor’s office. And while information Downs provided can’t be used against her in a criminal case, it can be used to pursue other potential suspects, assistant state attorney Tim Donnelly, the chief of the Broward office’s public corruption unit, he conducted the interview that led to her firing.

A transcript of the interview was released Friday. It says Downs admittedly was present with her now 53-year-old boyfriend, a convicted drug dealer, during hundreds of transactions he was involved in over the five years of their relationship, the Sun Sentinel reports.

Donnelly asked her, Why had she done it? She was intimidated by her boyfriend, Downs said, and he wanted her to accompany him.

While she said she had never given any confidential information to him or anyone else, Downs did admit she hadn’t told supervisors at work when she knew where wanted drug-dealing suspects could be found.

An investigation by the Broward sheriff’s department is now ongoing.

The state attorney’s office made the firing of Downs public after defense attorney Bill Gelin posted on his JAAB Blog last week about “a rumored scandal concerning the Drug Trafficking Unit, a long time employee, and possibly the handling of search warrants.”

Attorney Eric Schwartzreich represents Downs. He was traveling out of state Friday and did not immediately respond to an afternoon phone message from the newspaper.

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