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Palm Coast Friday, Jul. 9, 2021 1 year ago

Sheriff's Office asserts that Councilman Barbosa is a fugitive wanted for kidnapping and extortion, calls for FDLE investigation

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The U.S. Department of Justice has also opened a case on Barbosa, according to the FCSO. Barbosa said they have the wrong man.
by: Jonathan Simmons Managing Editor

The Flagler County Sheriff's office believes that Palm Coast City Councilman Victor Barbosa is a fugitive wanted in Costa Rica for kidnapping and extortion, and has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate, according to a letter from the FCSO.

The U.S. Department of Justice has also opened a case on Barbosa, who had been listed as "armed and dangerous" in Costa Rica, according to the FCSO.

Barbosa denied the allegations, telling a reporter that he hadn't been informed of them and laughing in apparent disbelief when told of the charges.

"Kidnapping and extortion? No!" he said. "Wrong person."

He did state that he'd lived in Costa Rica years previously. 

The agency's Court and Detention Services Director, Dan Engert, wrote in a July 6 letter to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen that the FCSO became aware of Barbosa's possible fugitive status after Barbosa was involved in a car crash on March 4. 

The agency, as part of its normal process, ran Barbosa's name though a law enforcement database. (The name of the database is redacted in the version of the letter that has been released in response to a public records request.)

A document attached to Engert's letter shows a listing of apparent criminal charges for a "Victor Manuel Barbosa Muller" for aggravated robbery, assault with a weapon and extortion. The document is in Spanish, with the charges handwritten alongside in English.

"On 3/11/2021, we received a delayed hit from [redacted] indicating Mr. Barbosa was a fugitive from a foreign country and considered armed and dangerous on the charge of Kidnapping and to contact the US. Department of Justice, which our agency  did," Engert wrote.

The Department of Justice replied to the FCSO and stated that they had opened a case on May 6, Engert wrote.

"In the meantime, we continued our inquiry to verify Mr. Barbosa was in fact the same fugitive wanted in Costa Rica," Engert continued. "Using investigative techniques, we believe Mr. Barbosa is the fugitive from Costa Rica."

The Costa Rican authorities have charges against Barbosa in multiple jurisdictions, Engert added, but the U.S. Department of Justice has not given the Sheriff's Office the authority to arrest Barbosa on those charges.

The FCSO was requesting that the FDLE take the case, he wrote, "so the Governor's Office may take appropriate action, if necessary." The governor could potentially remove Barbosa from his post.

Engert's letter states that the agency believes that Barbosa is in violation of Florida Statutes 112.51(2), which states that when a municipal official "is indicted or informed against for the commission of a federal felony or misdemeanor or state felony or misdemeanor, the Governor has the power to suspend such municipal official from office."

City Council terms are usually four years. But Barbosa is serving an abbreviated term that runs from 2020 to 2022: He gained the District 2 seat in a special election held after former District 2 Councilman Jack Howell left partway through his term for health reasons.

Barbosa has filed to run for the Flagler County Commission District 2 seat in 2022.

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