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Embattled public defender chief of staff to retire

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Updated: 9/13/2013 6:48 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The chief of staff for Jacksonville-based public defender Matt Shirk is retiring. 

Action News confirmed Ron Mallett will retire effective Sept. 27. 

Mallett is the man who signed termination letters for three young women in June, just days after a confrontation in the Public Defender's Office between the wife of Matt Shirk and one of the three women.

Mallett was among Shirk's first hires in January 2009.

Sources tell Action News the two met while Shirk ran his first campaign for District 4 public defender. 

Action News discovered, after digging through campaign records, Mallett contributed to both of Shirk's election bids, and both times was rewarded with a job.

Not long after Shirk won the election, he hired Mallett as part-time budget director.

Mallett would go on to be promoted to public information officer and then division director II, his current full-time position as chief of staff.

Action News also uncovered how rare Mallett's succession with the Office of the Public Defender was.  Of all public defenders in Florida, most don't have a chief of staff, and almost all high-ranking employees are attorneys.  The Florida Bar Association told Action News Mallett is not an attorney.

Mallett's voice is the one heard this summer on a message to former lead investigator Alton Kelly.  In the message, Mallett tells Kelly his resignation is part of a public records request by Action News.  He asks Kelly if they can get a formal letter, so they would not have to use the email to respond to our request.

Mallett earns $98,600 in his position with the public defender's office.  He is also listed as CFO for Thigpen Heating & Cooling, a Jacksonville-based company. 

Shirk informed the public defender's office of the news Friday morning.
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