State attorney looking into Central Florida Crimestoppers group

LAKELAND — Central Florida prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into how Heartland Crimestoppers was run in recent years.

The Polk County investigation, which was announced Monday, stems from a months-long investigation by The Ledger newspaper and a review by the Florida Attorney General's Office.

The newspaper's investigation found nepotism, a disregard of state bidding rules, instances of double billing, duplicate payments to credit card companies, financial mismanagement within Heartland's operations and a lack of oversight by the Attorney General's Office itself. The investigation included records dating to 2006.

The agency operates with the approval of Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties in Central Florida.

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