Florida county administrator’s office was illegally bugged

Investigators don’t know who was responsible

File photo.

PENSACOLA, Fla. – The office of a Florida county administrator was illegally bugged last year, but investigators don’t yet know who was responsible.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger told the Pensacola News Journal that the agency was contacted Aug. 1 about a hidden recording device in the office of Escambia County Administrator Janice Gilley.

The case was closed in late September when investigators couldn't develop additional information, Plessenger said. “If we get more information, we’ll obviously continue to pursue it.”

Gilley told the newspaper she became concerned when details of private conversations became “mainstream” in the public. Gilley said she didn’t want to discuss what information was disclosed.

“I didn’t want to be overreacting, but it was recommended to me that we do a sweep,” Gilley said. “They did a sweep, and I was truly not expecting anything to be found. So I was extremely astonished and amazed when it was found.”

Additional sweeps were conducted on the fourth floor of the Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building where Gilley’s office is located, and in the offices of all five county commissioners and the county attorney, the newspaper reported. No other devices were found.

“It’s really disappointing,” Gilley said. “Quite frankly, you feel like a victim because somebody clearly took the time to hide a device for the purposes of recording conversations.”

Escambia County Commission Chairman Robert Bender told the News Journal he was shocked that someone would plant a listening device in Gilley’s office.

“You wouldn’t expect it,” Bender said. “Personally though, I’m an open book. Our doors are mostly unlocked. I know they’re giving us new locks. I don’t have anything to hide or anything like that. What I say in private is what I say in public.”

Gilley said the county is working to install cipher locks on each of the offices on the fourth floor but has been delayed in getting the locks from the supplier.

Escambia County Commissioner Jeff Bergosh said Gilley told him about the discovery of a device and that the FDLE was sweeping all of the offices on the fourth floor of the county building for more devices.

“I said, ‘Do it now because I’ve found my door open a couple of times,’” Bergosh said.