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Sergeant gets probation on grand theft charge

Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2014 at 11:15 AM

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BROOKSVILLE -Joseph Reid, a former Hernando Sheriff's sergeant who resigned in December, was sentenced to two years probation on Thursday morning.

Judge Daniel Merritt Jr. accepted a plea deal that also requires Reid, 41, to relinquish his certifications to serve as a law enforcement officer in Florida, and pay $650 restitution to the sheriff's office.

A sheriff's office criminal investigation found Reid, while working as a sergeant for the Vice and Narcotics Unit, spent about $1,500 worth of vice currency on personal expenses since 2011.

An internal investigation also found Reid's supervisor, then-Captain Thomas Garcia, knew Reid was misusing the funds, and used his own money to cover for Reid.

Garcia, who was not charged with a crime, resigned in late February.

Reid was facing up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for the grand theft charge, a third-degree felony.

According to the Assistant State Attorney Phil Hanson, Reid misused $1,500 of sheriff's office investigative funds for his personal use. When he was relieved of his duties in November 2013, Reid was missing $634 of vice funds. The former sergeant used a commercial lender to re-pay the funds the same day, Hanson said. Reid also used a credit card supposed to be used for investigative funds for personal purchases.

Reid had no prior criminal or misdemeanor charges against him, Merritt Jr. said, and his adjudication of guilt was withheld.

An internal investigation shows Reid asked numerous detectives to borrow money, and asked them to sign over vice-issued funds to him.

The detectives, whose names were redacted from the report, said Reid asked for the money for utility bills and gas expenses, but said they believed Reid was spending the money on fast food, vacations and trips.

Reid's wages were being garnished by a court order, according to the report.

Detectives also told investigators they heard Reid say it was "okay to spend investigative funds on personal expenses as long as the money is replaced before the books are checked."

Reid, who started working for the sheriff's office in 2001, was earning $55,841 annually at the time of his resignation. He worked as a patrol officer, vice and narcotics detective and sergeant.

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