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Sheriff’s deputy charged with grand theft

By Staff | Feb 4, 2010

A Lee County sheriff’s deputy was charged with grand theft after investigators say he deposited a paycheck issued to another department employee.
Lee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Peter L. Garcia, 59, was charged with one count of grand theft between $300 and $5000, officials said Thursday.
An investigation began after a complaint was filed by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office finance director on Feb. 1, regarding the theft of an employee paycheck from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Civil Section, 2072 Victoria Avenue, Fort Myers. The complainant stated the stolen check had been issued for the amount of $1,873.05 to a Civil Section employee who does not have direct deposit.
The employee told officials he came to work on Jan. 15 and discovered his check was missing from his department mail box. The finance director contacted SunTrust Bank and learned the check had been cleared without an endorsement. A subsequent trace of the check revealed it had been deposited into a Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union account belonging to Garcia, officials said. Detectives with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit assumed the investigation.
Investigators issued a subpoena to Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union for Garcia’s records and documentation. The information confirmed Garcia deposited a check for the amount of $1,873.05 into his personal account on Jan. 14, officials said, adding record shows Garcia uses direct deposit for his paychecks, and would have no reason to deposit agency paychecks, or checks totaling as much as $1873.05, into his personal account.
Investigators arrested Garcia Thursday and transported him to the Lee County Jail for booking. According to jail records, he has been released on a cash bond. Bond was set at $1,500.
He has been placed on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs investigation, officials said.
“It goes without saying that these actions are contrary to everything this agency stands for,” Sheriff Mike Scott said in a prepared statement released Thursday. “Our mission is to enforce the law and I am disappointed anytime one of our members falls short of the public’s expectations. Peter Garcia’s actions are regrettable, but I remain proud of the men and women of this agency who protect and serve and hold themselves to higher standards.”
Garcia has been employed with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office since 1990. He is currently assigned to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Civil Section.

Source: Lee County Sheriff’s Office