Former Gilchrist County deputy jailed for lying about COVID-19 hospitalization to steal PTO
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GILCHRIST COUNTY, Fla. (WCJB) - Former Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Deputy Trent Freeman turned herself in on Wednesday for falsely claiming she was in the hospital with COVID-19 and receiving hundreds of her colleagues sick leave hours donated to her, according to the Sheriff.
They say she swindled more than $3,700 from GCSO, as she also forged doctors signatures to pull off her scam.
A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation led to the arrest of the 38-year-old on two counts of uttering a forged instrument and one count of scheme to defraud.
“This was the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this,” GCSO Sheriff Bobby Schultz said.
According to Schultz, Gilchrist County Sheriff’s deputies were under the impression that Freeman was in a coma with COVID-19.
The investigation began when GCSO noticed things weren’t adding up with her medical filings and asked FDLE to investigate.
“Obviously I’ve seen law enforcement officers get in trouble, to this magnitude of what she did and how she took advantage of the goodness of her fellow employees is saddening,” Schultz added.
They found she forged several doctors signatures to pull it off for about two months.
They caught wind of what she was doing on Oct. 5 and she was fired ten days later.
“Why would someone do that?” Trenton resident Vanna Willis said.
Willis was shocked to hear what Freeman did to her fellow deputies.
“They worked hard for that, put in time for that and things could’ve went differently if she would’ve told the truth,” Willis added.
Law enforcement said Freeman applied for another job before filing her family medical leave paperwork, and clearly she got the job because that’s where she was spending her time, instead of a hospital.
“Freeman had in fact started working at a full time private sector non-law enforcement job early in her scheme,” Schultz explained.
“Maybe they might need to look into some cases that she looked on,” Willis said.
Schultz said they are reviewing all her previous cases with the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
“We’ll be asking for restitution if we get our way and then hopefully we’ll be able to monetarily give back the time they have.”
She’s being held in the Levy County Jail on a $50,000 bond.
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