Gina Edwards founder of Watchdog City and a national award-winning investigative reporter who specializes in data analysis, public corruption, securities fraud and corporate crime.
Edwards is the primary architect and inventor of the Watchdog City marketplace platform and its user interface.
Through investigative work and dogged beat coverage at the Naples Daily News, Edwards uncovered evidence of bribes and influence peddling by local elected officials and developers in what became known as the Stadium Naples public corruption case. Her reporting ultimately led to the arrests of three county commissioners, the county manager and developers and the original founder of the ESPN cable network.
The prestigious professional organiztion Investigative Reporters & Editors honored Edwards’ public corruption reporting at the Naples Daily News with a first place award in 2000. The E.W. Scripps Co., parent of the Naples Daily News, submitted Edwards’ investigative work on the Stadium Naples case for Pulitzer Prize consideration in 1999 and 2000.
For her investigations, Edwards has received recognition and awards from top investigative journalism organizations in the United States including Investigative Reporters & Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, Scripps Howard Foundation and state organizations including the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors and the Florida Press Club.
After leaving journalism, Edwards founded Gina Edwards & Associates LLC, a private investigative agency specializing in securities fraud investigations. She has conducted continuing education training for auditors, certified fraud examiners and accountants. She worked as a Managing Director and then Director of Research for Due Diligence Consulting LLC, a boutique investigations firm founded by the COO of a large multibillion hedge fund, from 2017 to 2020. There she supervised or conducted investigations in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa and Australia and specialized in detailed executive background checks, investment due diligence and investigations for mergers and acquisitions, proxy contests, litigation and special situations. There she uncovered multiple material misrepresentations and omissions, undisclosed related party transactions, potential fraudulent transfers, potential bribes, and instances of racism, sexual harassment and resume and investment misrepresentations.
In 2009, Edwards developed securities fraud evidence on behalf of investors that eventually became part of key Securities and Exchange Commission charges involving Charles Schwab's $1.3 billion bond mutual fund that resulted in a $119 million fine against Charles Schwab & Co. and restitution order for investors. As a private investigator, she helped uncover fraud related to tens of millions in sales to real estate investment trusts. Her agency has helped locate next of kin for more than three dozen homeless and indigent people in emergency situations. Edwards still owns Gina Edwards & Assocaites LLC but the agency is not taking cases while she pursues journalism projects for Watchdog City.
During her investigation at the Naples Daily News spanning more than four years, Edwards made extraordinary use of Florida’s public records laws to uncover evidence of bribes and conflicts of interest on the part of local elected officials entangled in the proposed $100 million Stadium Naples golf development. Edwards’ dogged coverage, along with commentary by columnist Brent Batten and editorial page editor Jeff Lytle and support from Executive Editor Phil Lewis and Publisher Corbin Wyant, and a resulting public outcry ultimately led to the arrests of three Collier County Commissioners, the county manager, developers and the founder of the ESPN cable network.
Edwards uncovered partnership memos showing a county commissioner was negotiating for his limited partnership stake – valued at an estimated $7.5 million with no money down – months before casting key votes to benefit his developer partners and the stadium. Later, she broke the story that another county commissioner had received a $100,000 business loan that was never paid back from one of the stadium developer partners.
After the local prosecutor investigating the Stadium Naples corruption case declined to bring charges, Edwards uncovered that the elected prosecutor had bought stock in a Stadium Naples related company during his probe. Gov. Jeb Bush ordered a more detailed investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and called for the removal of the local state attorney from the case. Eventually, Bush appointed a special prosecutor to take over what became a sprawling criminal case involving 10 defendants.
Edwards conducted an aggressive nationwide investigation of A.S. Goldmen & Co., a brokerage firm linked to Stadium Naples that state and federal securities regulators dubbed as one of the nation's most notorious boiler rooms.
Edwards tracked down jilted customers around the country and documented suspected illegal activities and organized crime ties at the firm months ahead of indictments in New York brought by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's office. She built a database of current and former Goldmen brokers’ work histories and disciplinary records, showing how Goldmen brokers cycled in and out of stock houses under investigation by law enforcement and tied to organized crime operatives.
In addition, Edwards covered the collapse of David Mobley’s Maricopa Hedge Fund Ponzi scheme and its resulting aftermath that included almost $60 million in investor losses. Mobley, who was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison, made up bogus account statements for investors and claimed to have a proprietary “black box” trading system.
Edwards’ investigative work on viatical investments was read aloud by a Florida Senator to urge his colleagues to pass reform legislation that won approval in 2005. In addition, Edwards produced an investigative series on a $14 million mortgage fraud scheme called “The Waterford Files.”
Data Analysis and Geographic Information Systems
Edwards uses advanced database technology and analysis techniques to produce investigative results that would otherwise be impossible to discover by hand.
For example, in a 2005 story that predated the housing market collapse, Edwards conducted an extensive database analysis of property records to tease out neighborhoods prone to real estate flipping and even identify “flippers” themselves. The resulting award-winning story “Fast Bucks” reported on the extensive real estate flipping taking place in the overheated Naples market, which was subsequently devastated in the housing meltdown.
Edwards used public records to build databases to chronicle the impacts of the area’s real estate bubble and resulting affordable housing crisis and exodus of middle-class working families. Using database and Geographic Information System software, Edwards directed and coordinated analysis by reporters and new media staff of more than 100,000 home sales and calculated median home prices for more than 1,600 single family neighborhoods and condominium developments in Collier and south Lee counties for 2003 to 2006.
At the Naples Daily News, Edwards worked with programmers to design and develop a searchable online database of more than 100,000 home sales transactions that used Google maps, interactive graphs and photos of sample houses that sold near the median home price for a given neighborhood. The project, part of the newspaper’s “Paradise at What Cost?” series which Edwards helped spearhead, was recognized as one of the first large-scale searchable online databases of its kind produced by a newspaper staff.
Other noteworthy projects conducted for media organizations include:
* An analysis of more than 40,000 state restaurant inspection reports to uncover trends related to food borne illness;
* A neighborhood analysis of more than 100,000 burglary and theft records from four law enforcement agencies to examine crime patterns with geo-mapping;
* Geographic Information System analysis of septic tank locations to examine water quality patterns;
* Analysis of 40 years worth of population data in more than 100 counties as part of examination of pollution impacts on the Gulf of Mexico.
* Analysis of Florida Department of Corrections sentencing data to examine public corruption penalties and analysis of state Ethics Commission fines to show lax enforcement
Edwards graduated with distinction from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. with a bachelor’s degree in government and politics.
She got permanently hooked on journalism at the Broadside, George Mason’s student newspaper where she eventually served as Editor in Chief.
Faculty and administrators named her Student Leader of the Year at George Mason in 1994.
She began her professional journalism career at The Reston Connection and she later worked at The Reston Times as the “Reston reporter” covering nearly every beat of the newspaper except sports.