FCSO's general counsel resigns after News-Journal raises questions about her video podcast series

Theresa Pontieri posted videos critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. She had worked for the Sheriff's Office for less than two months at the time of her resignation.

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Updated Aug. 31 with a response from Theresa Pontieri

The Flagler County Sheriff's Office's general counsel resigned Aug. 24 after the Daytona Beach News-Journal asked questions about a podcast-style video series she'd posted in which she criticized the Black Lives Matter movement.

The general counsel, Theresa Pontieri, is white. She had posted the videos on a social media video-sharing platform called Rumble, and they have since been removed. (Read News-Journal reporter Frank Fernandez's story HERE.)

Pontieri had worked for the Sheriff's Office for less than two months: She'd started on July 6, FCSO Chief of Staff Mark Strobridge said. 

“The statements and choice of words in her online commentary do not represent or reflect Sheriff Staly’s proven values," Strobridge said in an emailed statement. "A private, members only podcast, which was made in April 2021 before she was employed with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, was brought to our attention on August 23, 2021, and was not disclosed or found in the hiring process. The comments were divisive and controversial, resulting in the losing effectiveness as the Agency General Counsel. Because the tone and what was said creates a strained relationship with the community, Ms. Pontieri has elected to resign from her position and the resignation was accepted effective today.”

Pontieri's resignation letter, addressed to Sheriff Rick Staly, stated: "I have greatly appreciated my time with the Flagler County Sheriff's Office and I thank you immensely for the opportunity to serve our community. I want nothing but the very best for the agency and for Flagler County, and I pray for the safety and success of all staff as you continue to grow the Sheriff's Office and protect our citizens."

Later, she defended herself in a statement sent to the Palm Coast Observer and the News-Journal: "I previously had a podcast in which I discussed current events and politics—with a large focus being on my advocacy against anti-police rhetoric in this country. The News-Journal's article cherry-picked content from a couple of my videos and failed to provide the point I was trying to make, which is that I’m tired of seeing victims of crime and the police that protect us being cast aside, while people perpetrating crimes are being uplifted in order to further a political narrative. I’m further agitated that this is done at the expense of addressing the true root causes of crime in minority communities."

She went on to say, "My forced resignation is nothing less than an act of complicity with the very atrocity I was trying to advocate against. Contesting false rhetoric that has done nothing but tear our country apart is not something that someone in America should be punished for. But, hey, I guess this is all part of the 'new normal.'"



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