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Two officers resign, are arrested for stealing tax-dollars from separate funds

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Published:   |   Updated: December 29, 2013 at 12:20 PM

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BROOKSVILLE - A sergeant and a deputy with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office resigned and were charged with felony grand theft after two criminal investigations found they stole money from separate accounts, including one established for the widow of a captain killed in the line of duty.

Sgt. Joseph Reid, 41, was charged with grand theft of more than $300 and less than $20,000; and Deputy Michael Glatfelter, 51, was charged with third-degree grand theft and third-degree organized scheme to defraud.

Confronted with the allegations Thursday, Reid and Glatfelter immediately resigned from the sheriff's office. Prosecutors subsequently leveled the criminal charges.

The joint investigation by the sheriff's and local state attorney's offices also found that newly-promoted Vice and Narcotics Unit Cap. Tom Garcia was aware Reid stole at least $1,500 in vice-issued money, and that Garcia used his own money to cover up Reid's theft.

Garcia was not charged with a crime or disciplined by sheriff's investigators. He is on paid administrative leave, Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis said at a news conference Friday.

The sheriff said his office has no indication of criminal wrongdoing by Garcia. "There are obviously some major concerns about some policy violations," said Nienhuis. "Now that the criminal cases are winding down, we'll begin the internal administrative cases and take appropriate action based on what we find there."

The sheriff's investigation concluded Reid used the vice-issued currency for personal use as far back as June 2011, and records include log books with entries for suspicious purchases.

Another investigation found Glatfelter, treasurer of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 164 from 2006-10, stole a total of $8,300 for personal items ranging from tobacco to electronics to groceries.

The most blatant transaction came one year after Glatfelter stepped down as treasurer, investigators reported, when he took $1,100 from the Scott Bierwiler Memorial Fund.

That fund was established to help the widow, two daughters, and son of Cap. Scott Bierwiler, who died Feb. 19, 2009, at age 42 in a head-on collision with a Nature Coast High School student.

"Today I have the very, very distasteful task of releasing some details into two separate criminal investigations," Nienhuis told reporters at Friday's news conference. "This betrayal of trust has left me angry; it's left me frustrated, but most of all it's made me disappointed."

Reid and Glatfelter turned themselves in at Citrus County Jail on Friday morning. Both deputies have arrested inmates now held at Hernando County Jail and thus were booked in Citrus for their own protection, sheriff's officials said.

Nienhuis said monies entrusted to Glatfelter in the Scott Bierwiler Memorial Fund are nearly depleted, and he thinks, because the state attorney's office is involved, restitution will be sought in the case.

"Why that money wasn't given to (Bierwiler's widow), I don't know," Nienhuis said. "We'll do everything we can to make sure that money goes to the right place."

The arrested deputies' personnel records indicate the men were stand-up law enforcement officials with a combined 57 commendations and only one written reprimand - against Glatfelter in 2008 for failing to complete a fatality crash report.

"Thank you for the opportunity to serve this county and the people who live here," Glatfelter wrote in a resignation letter he submitted Thursday.

He made $58,492 annually and had been with the sheriff's office since 1989, records show. He was a member of the Livestock and Crisis Response teams.

Reid signed a resignation letter stating he will receive about 172 hours of accrued pay at his current annual salary of $55,841 in exchange for a complete and unconditioned waiver of all rights and remedies.

He began working at the sheriff's office in 2001. He was a patrol officer, vice detective, and sergeant with the Vice and Narcotics Unit.

Both men, if convicted of the criminal charges, face up to five years in prison and $5,000 fines, Nienhuis said. Meanwhile, the sheriff said, his office must deal with damaged trust among citizens already weary of, and not surprised by, corruption in law enforcement.

mreinig@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5271

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