Palm Beach Sheriff Hacked by Russian Hactivists
In a move that is already infuriating law enforcement officials in South Florida, a website created by a former Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy posted “confidential property records” of thousands of Palm Beach deputies, police officers, judges, prosecutors and FBI agents over the weekend.
The information was obtained by Russian hackers and was posted on PBSOTalk.com in response to an ongoing pattern of corruption, abuse and retaliation from all levels with Palm Beach County, according to former deputy Mark Dougan, who launched the site several years ago, but says it has since been sold to friends in Russia.
Dougan says the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has not only been retaliating against him since he blew the whistle on corruption a few years through his site, but have retaliated against journalists as well, including one well-known television reporter named Katie LaGrone, who ended up investigated by the Florida Department of Children and Families after she was part of an investigative team that exposed a pattern of coverups of deputy shootings within the department.
Within two weeks, DCF investigators showed up to her home with a West Palm Beach police officer, saying they were responding to an anonymous tip that she and her husband, WPBF anchor Paul LaGrone, allowed their six-year-old child to wander the housing complex unsupervised, including near a community lake containing alligators.
However, it was later confirmed that a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy named Russell Brinson, who had been involved in 20 use-of-force incidents during an 18-month span lived on their same street. His internal affairs file consisted of 474 pages, according to a 2014 Palm Beach Post article.
Even fellow deputies have complained about his aggressiveness towards citizens, especially towards Hispanic citizens.
“If these agencies police their own and not allow each other to get away with these blatantly criminal acts, there would be retaliation,” Dougan said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Monday morning.
Last year, PINAC reported that a Palm Beach sheriff’s investigator, trying to woo a woman he had never met, admitted to hacking into Dougan’s social media accounts, only for the woman to be one of Dougan’s Russian friends.
Kenneth “Mark” Lewis, an internal affairs investigator for the department, also admitted the department uses “special software” to investigate citizens inside their homes while they remain parked outside.
In fact, it was Lewis who called DCF on LaGrone, according to Dougan, who said his Russian friends determined this by hacking into his personal account and discussed that if they could not charge her with child neglect, they could nail her on a misdemeanor by not changing the address on her drivers license, which they never did.
Now the alleged Russian hacker, who is only known as “Badwolf,” retaliated by posting the confidential addresses of everybody from Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw to Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg to a federal judge named Daniel Hurley, who has been presiding over a civil case involving a lawsuit against a deputy who shot and killed a man named Seth Adams.
Dougan describes Hurley as a “great judge,” but describes Aronberg as a “piece of shit” who “rubber stamps” every deputy shooting as justified.
Also listed is the home address of Adams Lin, the Palm Beach sheriff’s deputy who shot an unarmed man in the back, leaving him paralyzed, after claiming he thought the man’s cell phone was a gun. The victim, Dontrell Lewis, who earlier this month, was awarded $23 million in damages.
Lin, meanwhile, was cleared of all wrongdoing and promoted to sergeant.
In the PBSO Talk forums, Badwolf alleges that Palm Beach deputies also hacked into the accounts of Gossip Extra journalist Jose Lambiet, who probably stays on top of the departmental corruption better than anybody, as well as Palm Beach Post reporter Lawrence Mower, an investigative journalist who was a major contributor to the expose earlier this year, writing an article revealing that 97 percent of fatal shootings by Palm Beach deputies are cleared.
Dougan describes the Russian hackers as “cyber-vigilantes.”
“They’ve seen enough corruption in Russia that they’re pissed it’s just as bad here,” he said. “The only difference is that it’s more open over there.”
Dougan, who frequently travels to Russia for business, is currently in Palm Beach County, but said he is not afraid of retaliation.
“If they want to talk to me, I’ll be more than happy to cooperate, but they need to talk to the people in Russia,” he said.
We will be updating this article throughout the date as there is much more information to sift through.