Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
No deal yet on Zappulla; status hearing set

KEY LARGO -- A deal isn't yet on the table in the computer hacking case involving the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District and former Finance Director Salvadore Zappulla.

Demetrios Efstratiou, a prosecutor in the State Attorney's office, said he is still familiarizing himself with the allegations against Zappulla and has only had preliminary conversations with wastewater district attorney Ray Giglio.

A status hearing on the matter has been set for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 2, at the Plantation Key courthouse. From there Efstratiou could move forward in taking depositions from wastewater employees and prepare for a trial.

Efstratiou said, per office policy, he is limited on what he can discuss regarding plea agreements, but he did indicate they hadn't yet come to an agreement.

Zappulla was charged in June with 17 felony counts of computer fraud. Monroe County Sheriff's Office detectives say Zappulla remotely accessed documents relating to him on the Key Largo district's computers after his contract was allowed to expire. He then reportedly bragged about it in an interview with a sheriff's detective.

Giglio said he has had some private conversations with board members on how to proceed and could not yet offer what type of discipline would be amenable to the board.

"I'm not sure how the board wants to move forward," he said. "That's the problem."

Board member Steve Gibbs recently asked for an update on the Zappulla matter at a board meeting but was asked by district General Manager Margaret Blank to seek out his information privately.

Zappulla, who is represented by the Public Defender's Office, has previously told the Free Press that negotiations were ongoing.

Attempts to reach him and his attorney were not successful.

Depositions with current wastewater employees and Zappulla's former counsel, Michael Strickland, broke down late last year when Strickland insisted Giglio not be present during the interviews.

jgore@keysnews.com

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