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JUDGE RULES BALKWILL TAMPERED WITH EVIDENCE

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A SARASOTA COUNTY CIRCUIT JUDGE RULED EARLIER THIS WEEK THAT FORMER SARASOTA COUNTY SHERIFF BILL BALKWILL INTENTIONALLY DELETED MORE THAN 11,000 FILES AND EMAILS ON HIS COMPUTER BEFORE TURNING IT OVER FOR EVIDENCE IN A LAWSUIT AGAINST HIM.  12TH CIRCUIT JUDGE ROBERT BENNETT WROTE THAT BALKWILL WAS ORDERED BY HIM NOT TO TAMPER WITH THE COMPUTER AFTER HE RETIRED FROM OFFICE TWO YEARS AGO, BUT BALKWILL KEPT IT AND HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH GRAND THEFT.  BALKWILL HAS ADMITTED TO ERASING PUBLIC EMAILS, SAYING THEY WERE CONFIDENTIAL AND RELATED TO HOMELAND SECURITY, BUT HE SAYS HE DID NOT DELETE INFORMATION RELATING TO JAIL CONTRACTS.  PRISON HEALTH SERVICES HAS SUED BALKWILL AND ARMOR HEALTH SERVICES, WHO WON THE $9 MILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT TO TAKE CARE OF THE JAIL, CLAIMING BALKWILL WENT TO DINNER AND WENT ON TRIPS TOTALLING ABOUT $1500 DOLLARS WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF ARMOR BACK IN 2007.  IRONICALLY, BALKWILL AWARDED THE CONTRACT TO ARMOR ON THE DAY HE ANNOUNCED HIS RETIREMENT.  PRISON HEALTH SERVICES IS ASKING THAT THE CONTRACT BE VOIDED WITH ARMOR.  IF THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT FINDS BALKWILL AT FAULT, HE COULD FACE MORE CRIMINAL CHARGES.