JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The turmoil that has overtaken the Office of Public Defender in recent weeks claimed another casualty -- this one PD Matt Shirk's close friend and chief of staff, Ron Mallett.
In a brief, five-sentence email sent this morning, Shirk said that Mallet "has notified me this week that he has decided to retire." Mallett has been at the center of the recent controversy, having fired three female employees with whom Shirk is accused of unseemly conduct -- including workplace drinking and inappropriate text messages.
After Mallett fired the women, two longtime investigators for the office quit in protest.
Mallett also instructed an employee to delete public records that showed Shirk's wife had an access badge to the PDO's downtown headquarters, according to a story this week in the Florida Times-Union.
Asked for comment on the resignation, Shirk spokesman Matt Bisbee said, "I honestly don't have much to say other than I got an email at 10 this morning to all staff announcing Ron Mallet's retirement." Asked whether he'd spoken to Shirk about the retirement, Bisbee said he had, but "I didn't ask for any reason ... [and] I don't have any idea why."
Mallett came to the PD's office nearly five years ago, working part time while remaining CEO of Thigpen Heating & Cooling by trade. He moved to full time earlier this year at a salary of $98,500 a year. His last day is Sept 27.