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School district official avoids felony charge in plea deal

An official with a Florida school district who was arrested in July 2012 on suspicion of identity theft says that the accusations were a form of revenge from his former wife. The ex-wife, who claimed that the school district official used her personal data to obtain a loan without her permission, later cut off communication with prosecutors, leading to a plea agreement that included authorities dropping a felony charge against the defendant.

The defendant says that his ex-wife agreed to be a co-signer on a student loan he was applying for in 2011. He was approved for the loan, but the former wife later claimed to authorities that he had taken out the loan in her name using her Social Security number and date of birth.

Police arrested the defendant, who is the director of transportation for the Hernando school district in July. He was charged with fraudulent use of personal information, which is a third-degree felony in Florida. But as prosecutors prepared the case, the ex-wife suddenly stopped returning their calls. The assistant state attorney handling the case told her in a voice mail that they would have to reduce the charges if she did not respond, but the ex-wife never got in touch again. The defendant's attorney said that the ex-wife's family did not believe her account of how the loan was approved.

The assistant state attorney dropped the felony charged and substituted a misdemeanor charge of attempted use of personal information. While the defendant continues to maintain his innocence, he pleaded guilty to the reduced charge because doing so was in his best interests. He was sentenced a year of probation and slightly under $500 in fines and court costs.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Hernando school district official avoids felony fraud charge," Tony Marrero and Danny Valentine, Feb. 7, 2013

  • Our law firm provides legal defense for those facing felony charges. For more information, please visit our Tampa criminal defense page.

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