TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (WSVN) – Federal authorities raided the home of a former Florida Department of Health employee who says she was fired because she refused to manipulate COVID-related data.
Video captured the Monday morning raid at Rebekah Jones’ Tallahassee home. The former FDOH data analyst is seen answering the door, then raising her hands as federal agents moved in.
Officials with the Florida Department of Health said the raid, weeks in the making, was executed because they believe Jones is behind the hack of a state computer system.
Back in May, Jones addressed her firing from FDOH.
“The first time I was asked to do something improper was in April,” she said during a CNN interview. “I was told that, specifically, and this is a quote, ‘We can’t tell Jackson and Franklin County that they can’t reopen, but Broward and Miami-Dade can.’”
Jones reportedly helped manage the state’s popular COVID-19 website. She said she was let go when she wouldn’t change data to be more favorable toward Florida’s reopening plans.
Since then, she has created a competing website that taps into the state’s coronavirus data.
When pressed on her termination earlier in the year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called her credibility into question.
“She’s being charged with cyberstalking and cyber sexual harassment,” he said.
Jones posted a 29-second video of the raid on Twitter, as well as a series of tweets.
In one tweet, she wrote, “They took my phone and the computer I use every day to post the case numbers in Florida, and school cases for the entire country. They took evidence of corruption at the state level. They claimed it was about a security breach. This was DeSantis. He sent the Gestapo.”
In a statement, FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen claimed the department started investigating Jones back in early November, “…regarding unauthorized access to a Department of Health messaging system which is part of an emergency alert system, to be used for emergencies only. Agents believe someone at the residence on Centerville Court illegally accessed the system.”
During the raid, Jones said, agents had their guns drawn on her family, including her children.
She discussed the raid on CNN, late Monday night.
“I haven’t had access to any systems at DOH for over six months,” she said. “I’m not a hacker. As the governor pointed out many months ago, I’m not that tech-savvy.”
Agents, however, said they entered 20 minutes after Jones refused to answer the door or take their phone calls.
Jones has alleged wrongdoing by the state for months, but DeSantis is standing by the website, indicating all data is available and transparent.
“Any insinuation otherwise is just typical partisan narrative trying to be spun,” he said.
Late Monday night, Swearingen amended his statement to say, “At no time were weapons pointed at anyone in the home.”
It remains unclear whether or not any charges will be filed against Jones in the case.
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