A Monroe County public works employee accused of hitting his girlfriend and threatening to release nude videos of her has been suspended with pay as the case makes its way through the court system, according to county officials.
Leonard Duane Justice, 37, of Key West, faces charges of third-degree felony video voyeurism, third-degree felony video voyeurism dissemination and first-degree misdemeanor domestic battery.
Third-degree felonies are punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and first-degree misdemeanors by a year in county jail.
Justice pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday.
Justice was suspended with pay pending a hearing with county officials outside of court as per their normal disciplinary process, said Assistant County Administrator Kevin Wilson. That hearing was still being scheduled Wednesday, he said.
Court records indicate the investigation was slowed as the State Attorney’s Office had trouble getting Justice’s defense attorney, Julio Margalli, to turn over his client’s Samsung Galaxy smartphone, which reportedly contained videos of the woman masturbating, according to court records.
The woman told police she did not consent to the videos being taken and the officer noted in an arrest report that the videos “clearly had been taken from afar, as if not to be seen” and added that “Justice was clearly threatening to release the videos in his text messages (to the girlfriend) as an act of revenge.”
Prosecutor Colleen Dunne said Margalli turned over the phone on Wednesday after a court hearing that morning in light of an emergency motion she filed on Monday asking the court to force him to abide by a search warrant for the phone, filed on June 30.
“At this time, the state has no choice but to file this motion and request the production of the defendant’s cell phone,” Dunne wrote in the motion. “The alternative would be to obtain another search warrant directed at defense counsel and his office, something the state would rather not do and is trying to avoid.”
Why the phone was not immediately turned over as evidence until Wednesday after court was not known as Margalli did not return messages seeking comment.
Key West police responded to the couple’s home on the 2400 block of Fogarty Avenue at 9:16 a.m. on June 5 in response to a report of domestic battery that occurred the night before, according to court records.
Police found the 30-year-old girlfriend there who reportedly told them she and Justice had been in a “heated argument” and that he punched her in the face with a closed fist the night prior. The officer noted there was redness and swelling on her face, reports say.
She then showed police texts she received from Justice that morning, in which he allegedly threatened to release videos.
Justice is a Teamsters union heavy equipment operator who was hired by the county on Sept. 22, 2014 according to county records.