Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday the suspension of State Attorney Monique Worrell of the 9th Judicial Circuit for dereliction of duty and incompetence during her tenure that endangers public safety and welfare.
Worrell was the beneficiary of a last-minute $1.5 million ad campaign run in Orange and Osceola counties, a campaign that was funded by a group tied to left-wing megadonor George Soros in 2020.
The political committee behind the ad campaign, “Our Vote Our Voice,” received $1 million from Democracy PAC, a political committee set up by Soros.
Soros has funded advertising campaigns for several state prosecutors, including for a U.S. Attorney in Boston who recently resigned due to accusations of ethics violations, and Cumberland County District Attorney Jacqueline Sartoris, who was elected in 2022 with the help of more than $300,000 from Soros.
On her campaign platform website, Sartoris promised she would advocate for the closure of secure juvenile facility the Long Creek Youth Development Center, and would “emphasize treatment over incarceration.”
“Worrell has authorized or allowed practices or policies that have systematically permitted violent offenders, drug traffickers, serious juvenile offenders, and pedophiles to evade incarceration when otherwise warranted under Florida law,” the executive order suspending the prosecutor states.
“These practices or policies include non-filing or dropping meritorious charges or declining to allege otherwise provable facts to avoid triggering lengthy sentences, minimum mandatory sentences, or other sentencing enhancements, especially for offenders under 25, except in the most extreme cases,” the order reads.
The order corroborates these accusations with data from the Florida Department of Corrections.
In 2021, 32 drug trafficking cases were referred to Worrell’s office, but as of March 2023, only three resulted in a minimum mandatory sentence.
Of the 64 drug trafficking cases referred to her office in 2022, none have resulted in a minimum mandatory sentence.
The order also states that Worrell has authorized or allowed practices or policies that limit the number of charges for Possession of Child Pornography.
From Jan. 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, the 9th Circuit had the lowest prison admission rates per capita relative to the other circuits for crimes involving lewd and lascivious behavior, which includes Possession of Child Pornography and other sex crimes against children.
Other examples in the executive order included:
- “Just this past weekend, Worrell was at the center of a major controversy. Daton Viel was arrested in March 2023 for sexual battery on a minor, as well as Lewd and Lascivious Molestation. That arrest was made while Viel was on probation for another offense – that probation began in February 2023. Viel was still let out on bond and thereafter shot two Orlando Police Officers.”
- “In February 2023, 19-year-old Keith Moses shot and killed a cameraman and a 9-year-old girl. He had a long history of arrests as a juvenile, including aggravated battery, assault, and grand theft. As recently as November 2021, he was arrested for drug possession, but no charges were pursued.”
- “In October 2022, a minor was arrested on first-degree murder charges with a firearm. The shooting was captured on video. One month later, Worrell’s office inexplicably filed a petition to reduce the charge to firearm possession. He was placed on probation.”
- “In November 2022, 17-year-old Lorenzo Larry shot and killed his pregnant girlfriend, De’Shayla Ferguson. Larry had previously been arrested in May 2022 on several charges, including carrying a concealed firearm, possession of a firearm on school property, and criminal possession of a firearm by a minor. But he was released after all these arrests. Worrell’s office did not act on any of these charges until after he killed his girlfriend and their unborn child.”
“It is my duty as Governor to ensure that the laws enacted by our duly elected Legislature are followed,” said DeSantis. “The people of Central Florida deserve to have a State Attorney who will seek justice in accordance with the law instead of allowing violent criminals to roam the streets and find new victims.”
DeSantis appointed Andrew Bain, a 9th Circuit Judge in Orange County and former Assistant State Attorney, to take over Worrell’s position.
“We are fortunate to have a Governor committed to the rule of law and holding officials — especially those elected to protect the public — accountable for not doing the jobs they swore an oath to do,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “Ms. Worrell abdicated her responsibility as the circuit’s top prosecutor and her actions undermine the safety and security of our state and Floridians.”