Bronson, FL — When coworkers of Florida sheriff's detective Trent Kellee Freeman, 38, found out that she was deathly ill with COVID-19, they donated their sick-leave hours to her, as they prayed for her swift return. After weeks of hoping she'd get better, Freeman's fellow cops had their prayers answered — but not like they had thought. Although Freeman was not sick, she had never been sick, and was faking the entire thing.
As she duped her fellow Gilchrist County deputies for weeks, Freeman was actually working another full-time job, outside of police work. She had constructed an elaborate hoax to defraud her fellow deputies of their sick leave while double dipping at another job.
“Agents discovered that Freeman filed multiple sets of fraudulent Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) paperwork, forging the signatures of area doctors to support her false claims of extensive hospitalization for severe COVID-19 and other medical issues,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement released earlier this month.
When the agency saw inconsistencies with Freeman's paperwork, it requested Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate.
According to the Miami Herald, "the probe ultimately found that Freeman was indeed not sick, but employed full time elsewhere in the private sector. While working in the non-law-enforcement position, the 38-year-old “solicited and received hundreds of donated sick leave hours from her colleagues,” defrauding GCSO of approximately $3,727."
“We believe in accountability at the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office, which is why we brought this case to FDLE,” said Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz in a press conference. “No matter the circumstances or situation, we will strive to make sure our employees do the right thing at all times. This is an unfortunate situation, but this in no way represents the men and women as a whole who work at the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office.”
“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 said, adding the agency is seeking restitution.
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According to the report, Freeman went to great lengths to defraud her fellow deputies, including faking hospitalization, even claiming she was in a coma.
After discovering the fraud, a warrant was issued for her arrest and she was charged with two counts of uttering a forged instrument and one count of scheme to defraud.
Freeman turned herself in earlier this month and was booked into the Levy County Jail on a $50,000 bond.
While this case may seem outlandish, TFTP has reported on cops defrauding or stealing from their fellow officers before. In September, Jeremy Kevitt, the president of the Clermont Police Officers Union was arrested for stealing from his fellow cops.
Kevitt was arrested on Labor Day for allegedly stealing $50,000 from his own union, including the theft of money from a fund set up to pay for the medical bills of a wounded cop.
For years, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Kevitt abused his position as the union president. In 2014, he began the theft by obtaining an ATM card to the police union bank account. No one on the union board approved the measure.
When cops have to watch out for fellow cops stealing from them, it may be time to admit we have a problem within American law enforcement.