COJ signed $98 million contract with Duval jail healthcare provider previously convicted in Wisconsin inmate death

Contractor now faces potential lawsuit, state investigation after failing to provide essential medicine to inmate who later died

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An investigation into the healthcare contractor at the Duval County jail has begun following the death of a man who died shortly after not receiving his medication to prevent his body from rejecting his heart transplant while in custody at the jail.

Dexter Barry, 54, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor simple assault on Nov. 18, 2022. He was accused of verbally threatening his neighbor in a dispute over Wi-Fi.

Records from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Barry did not receive any doses of the essential medication while in jail. He died a few days after he was released.

The video of Barry’s arrest shows he told the officer about his transplant or his medicine seven times throughout the course of his arrest.

“Once you step foot in a jail. It’s like your life is over. You don’t mean anything to anyone in there,” his daughter Janelle King said.

Armor Health of Duval County is a subsidiary of Armor Correctional Health Services. The healthcare contractor is facing a pending lawsuit from Barry’s family, an investigation by the state, and potential problems with their $98 million contract with the city.

The contract, signed on Nov. 1, said the company’s owners, partners and staff “do not have any pending criminal charges or felony convictions.”

But court records show otherwise.

RELATED: Records confirm man did not receive heart transplant medicine in Duval County Jail. He died days later

In October 2022, the company was convicted in Wisconsin of seven counts of intentionally falsifying health care records and one count of neglecting an inmate, which is a felony.

Barry’s family’s attorney, Andrew Bonderud, said misrepresenting their criminal history for taxpayer dollars is a big problem.

“It’s kind of textbook fraud,” Bonderud said.

A spokesperson for the city said they weren’t aware of Armor’s conviction when the contract was signed in November.

The company first contracted with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office through the city in 2017, signing a new contract with them on Nov. 1, weeks before Barry’s arrest.

Under Jacksonville city law, healthcare companies are exempt from going through a competitive bidding process.

“It seems like instead of providing medical care, it’s just really all about the money,” his son Dexter Barry Jr. said.

The Florida Department of Management Services keeps a list of convicted vendors, and if a government contractor is convicted of a crime related to its public role, it must notify the department within 30 days.

The I-TEAM asked the DMS last week if Armor’s convictions were reported. Thursday, the department confirmed they never were. The department is now investigating, a spokesperson said.

“This is an ongoing problem, a current problem that the sheriff’s office needs to face without delay because if they don’t, more people are going to die,” Bonderud said.

The city is also looking into its contract with the healthcare contractor. The sheriff’s office has not commented on Barry’s case because of pending litigation.

Armor hasn’t responded to the I-TEAM’s questions, but court records from Wisconsin show they are appealing their criminal convictions.

About the Author:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter