A conviction on theft charges can have far reaching consequences. In addition to a possible prison sentence and restitution, the person convicted stands to lose their employment and any professional licenses. These are the serious consequences that could be in store for a Florida state trooper who was recently arrested on theft charges in Palm Beach County, if he is convicted. In fact, even though he is currently free on bail and is presumed innocent until proven guilty, he has already been dismissed from the Florida Highway Patrol.
The trooper is accused of defrauding a customer in a side business he ran. The side business furnished off-duty troopers for a construction company in Hialeah. The construction company performed maintenance on Florida East Coast Railroad tracks; the off-duty troopers would close roads while the construction was underway.
According to prosecutors’ allegations, the trooper overbilled the construction company, charged for more troopers than he actually provided at some locations, and padded the hours worked.
Accusations of theft by fraud can be devastating to a person’s career and reputation. For this reason the charges, if false, must be fought vigorously. The prosecution must prove every element of the crime of theft, including the element of intent. The accused in a case like this may be able to argue that the billing issues were simply mistakes. He may have been instructed to prepare invoices in a certain way and misunderstood the directions. Perhaps someone else was responsible for the invoices, or perhaps someone set him up. With the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer the accused will have the opportunity to tell his side of the story to the jury.
Source: Bradenton Herald, “Florida briefs: Trooper dismissed after theft charges filed,” Aug. 31, 2013