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Dr. William Figlesthaler, inset Dr. Nicholas Franco.

2020

Business relationship to doc found with child porn dogs William Figlesthaler

Dr. Nicholas Franco pled guilty to 100 counts of child porn possession.

A business partner of Naples Republican congressional candidate Dr. William Figlesthaler was arrested on child pornography charges eight years ago.

Reports from the time show Figlesthaler, a Naples urologist, quickly severed ties with Dr. Nicholas Franco, a physician at the practice. But the association with someone connected to such a disturbing crime is creating problems for Figlesthaler’s campaign for Congress as he runs on his private-sector record as a successful business owner.

Figlesthaler’s campaign says a past employee’s conviction shouldn’t reflect poorly on the candidate. Spokespeople for the campaign say it’s inappropriate to report on the years-old case now.

“Dr. Figlesthaler clearly understands that politics has become a cesspool of slander and lies, but these accusations represent a new low even for the Fake News Media,” Figlesthaler’s campaign said in a statement to Florida Politics in response to questions about the case.

An offense report from 2012 shows Collier County Sheriff’s Office investigators flagged an IP address at Franco’s home because suspicious files were being shared. Authorities obtained a search warrant and served it at Franco’s home on June 1 that year.

A report by Detective Scott Rapisarda indicates the pornography showed adult men performing sex acts with prepubescent girls, and one video showed the rape of a toddler. One file name cited in the report indicates there was a video of an 8-year-old girl engaged in sexual activity.

Franco, at the time, was at his workplace, Specialists in Urology, a medical practice founded by Figlesthaler. Deputies went to the workplace and informed Franco they were going to search his home. He left work and was present when deputies found three computers, including one used exclusively by Franco.

Law enforcement searched the computer and identified 50 child pornography videos. Police initially arrested Franco in June 2012 on a count of possession for each file. A supplemental report in June 2013 shows the issuance of another warrant for Franco’s arrest on 50 additional counts of possession of child pornography.

Franco, at the time of the initial arrest, was a physician at Figlesthaler’s practice. A 2012 article in the Naples Daily News indicates Figlethaler immediately fired Franco after the arrest.

“We had absolutely no inkling whatsoever there was any issue,” Figlesthaler told the Daily News. “It was a total surprise, but we can’t have any part of that in the practice.”

Figlesthaler’s campaign said as much to Florida Politics when asked this week about the arrest.

“Dr. Figlesthaler terminated Franco’s employment immediately upon his arrest in 2012,” reads a statement from the campaign. “Dr. Figlesthaler’s cooperation and testimony played a pivotal role in Franco’s prosecution and subsequent conviction.”

During the investigation of Franco, the Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip that claimed Figlesthaler acted as an accomplice in the exploitation of children with Franco. The tip, which was sent from the hospital, claimed that after Franco’s initial arrest, Figlesthaler “spent the night in ‘990 office’ removing his computers because he is involved too.”

Figlesthaler’s campaign dismissed those insinuations as false and insisted the men were not friends. “Nicholas Franco was one of hundreds of employees employed by Dr. Figlesthaler in 2012, and their relationship was solely professional,” a campaign statement reads.

Investigators never found anyone but Franco to be involved in the crime.

“Nicholas Franco is a deeply sick individual that has absolutely zero place in society,” the Figlesthaler campaign statement reads. “The suggestion that Dr. Figlesthaler had any connection to or involvement in Franco’s heinous crimes is entirely baseless and shows a continued pattern of the media reporting at the behest of his opponents in this race.”

The Daily News reported in October 2017 that Franco accepted a deal to plead guilty to 100 counts of child porn possession and serve four and a half years in prison, then leave the country immediately once his sentence is complete. Department of Corrections records show Franco remains at the Lancaster Correctional Institute in Trenton. His scheduled release is in November 2021.

Sources close to Figlesthaler say he testified in court for the state against Franco and was the one advised Franco to surrender to police when he fled to the office.

Figlesthaler today is one of nine Republicans running in Florida’s 19th Congressional District.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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