State Attorney candidate’s personnel file reveals hostility, poor performance

All new at six: The guy who wants to decide who gets prosecuted for crimes says the people doing it now are corrupt.

But, he used to work for them, and they say he was a poor prosecutor.

Before you vote in three weeks, WINK News reporter Oliver Redsten investigates, who’s telling the truth.

“This is corruption at the state attorney’s office and it needs to stop,” Crowley said.

From the steps of the Lee County Courthouse Tuesday, Chris Crowley condemned the office he soon hopes to lead.

The former assistant state attorney accused his opponent, Amira Fox of having him arrested for speaking out against her boss and the current State Attorney Steve Russell, even though they recused themselves from the case.

“It’s no coincidence that a month ago I said ‘remove this corrupt official’ and then a month later I’m booked in the jail,” Crowley said. “That’s no coincidence folks. That’s corruption.”

Crowley turned himself in Monday on two felony charges stemming from a fundraising raffle at his June campaign event. He’s entered a diversion program, meaning the case won’t go to trial if he completes it.

Criticizing the state attorney’s office has been a theme of Crowley’s campaign.

He’s railed against what he calls “the low conviction rate” of the SAO and promised to better train prosecutors to improve their trial skills.

But a review of Crowley’s personnel file during his time as a prosecutor shows his direct supervisor raised concerns about his skills.

In the 2008 performance review, his supervisor writes Crowley could not “adjust” during trial when “facts and circumstances changed.”

Six years later, she wrote his courtroom skills had improved, but he still struggled elsewhere.

He now says his supervisor had a grudge against him.

“I succeeded at trial,” Crowley said. “I succeeded better than my supervisor and she resented it.”

But according to that supervisor, the concern went far beyond her. In this memo —also from 2008— she says two female employees approached her about Crowley.

One claimed his behavior created a hostile work environment and another said it negatively impacted her self-esteem.

“That never happened. OK? That is just nonsense,” Crowley said. “That’s an angry supervisor who butted heads with a lot of people she supervised.”

Crowley also referred us to Rachael Lazorik, his former colleague at the state attorney’s office. She was fired from the office in 2011 for poor attendance.

“Chris is pushy and tenacious,” Lazorik said. “Maybe if somebody is a little more sensitive they’ll take it the wrong way, but not intimidating to me at all.”

But the former director of human resources and the state attorney’s office called Crowley one of the most difficult employees she worked with in her 45-year career. And said all the claims made by his supervisor are true.

“Everything in that statement is absolutely correct,”said Margie McNear, the former director of human resources at the state attorney’s office. I personally interviewed both the female attorney and the female support staff regarding the incident in this memo that’s dated Nov. 24th.”

“He is lying. It was absolutely correct,” McNear said. “This is exactly what the employees felt. What took place. This is not fabricated.”

We also reviewed the personnel file of Crowley’s opponent and the current Chief Assistant Attorney Fox.

It did not contain any negative performance reviews or disciplinary action. But Crowley says that doesn’t surprise him.

“People just quit because she was the supervisor. A lot of good people quit the state attorney’s office because of that woman,” Crowley said.

Russell fired Crowley in 2014 for poor job performance. Crowley says it’s because of his military service.

The state attorney denies that claim. Records show the office paid Crowley a few months ago to avoid a lawsuit.

Crowley’s supervisor Cynthia Ross was not available for comment.

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