by Pat Raia
Rebekah Jones, the former manager of the state’s COVID-19 virus information dashboard is free on bond after turning herself in to law enforcement authorities on Sunday Jan. 17, 2021. Jones is accused of misusing the state’s computer system.
According to a written statement from Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), in November, the FDLE responded to a complaint from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) alleging that someone had illegally accessed ReadyOp, the state’s emergency-alert messaging system. Investigators later determined that the message was sent from Jones’ Tallahassee home. In December, investigators acting on a warrant retrieved evidence that Jones had allegedly illegally accessed the system, sent a message to 1,750 people, downloaded confidential FDOH data and saved it to her electronic devices, according to the FDLE.
In May, Jones was relieved from her position at the FDOH. She alleges that her exit from the agency was in response for her refusal to “manually alter COVID-19-related figures to support the (Governor’s) plan to reopen.”
In a Jan.16 social media posting, Jones announced that she would surrender to authorities on Jan. 17.
“To protect my family from continued police violence and to show that I’m ready to fight whatever they throw at me, I’m turning myself into police in Florida Sunday night,” Jones said in a Twitter post.
On Jan. 18, Deputy Shade McMillian, public information officer for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Jones had turned herself into the Leon County detention facility.
She was subsequently arrested and charged with one count of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices, FDLE said.
According to reports, Jones was freed on a $2,500 bond. Specific terms of the bond, if any, were unavailable.
No one from Gov. Ron DeSantis office was available for comment.