Florida Seizes Computers of Former Health Department Employee Accused of Hacking into System

Authorities in Florida on Monday raided the home of Rebekah Jones, a former state official who is under investigation for hacking into the state-run communications platform, ReadyOp. Jones, a former employee of the health department, was using her email address illegally to gain access to send a group text on Nov. 10 telling people that it was “time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead.” and “You know this is wrong,” the text said, according to the warrant. “You don’t have to be part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late.”

In May, she told WPEC-TV of West Palm Beach that her exit from the Health Department was “not voluntary” and alleges that it happened after she refused to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.”

In a message Monday, Jones denied sending the Nov. 10 text. And stated that state police “pointed a gun in my face” and at her children.

The investigator, Noel Pratts, said the agents raided Jones’ home in Tallahassee in search of computer hardware and electronics. Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen said that agents had “knocked and called” Jones, but she refused to come to the door for 20 minutes and hung up on them. Agents then “entered the home in accordance with normal protocols and seized several devices that will be forensically analyzed,” he said in a statement.

“At no time were weapons pointed at anyone in the home,” the statement added.

Jones blamed the raid on Gov. Ron DeSantis. Despite her denial, Jones stated, “This is what happens to scientists who do their job honestly,” she said. “This is what happens to people who speak truth to power.”

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Gretl Plessinger, said Jones refused to answer the door when agents knocked and hung up when they called her. “After several attempts and verbal notifications that law enforcement officers were there to serve a legal search warrant, Ms. Jones eventually came to the door and allowed agents to enter,” Plessinger said. “Ms. Jones’ family was upstairs when agents made entry into the home.”