Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

County sues to evict former deputy from park

Ex-Hillsborough sheriff’s Deputy Frank Lopez Jr. has had a free mobile home lot and utilities since 1996 at Rodney Colson Park.

SHELLEY ROSSETTER | Times

Ex-Hillsborough sheriff’s Deputy Frank Lopez Jr. has had a free mobile home lot and utilities since 1996 at Rodney Colson Park.

TAMPA — Fourteen years ago, Hillsborough County allowed Frank Lopez Jr., then a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy, to keep a mobile home at Rodney Colson Park and receive a free lot, free water and free electricity in exchange for patrolling the grounds.

But in 2008, the county discovered Lopez hasn't worked as a deputy since 2003 and wasn't fulfilling his duties at the park.

Now park officials want him out, according to a lawsuit filed this week in Hillsborough Circuit Court.

It's unclear how much the county has spent on the Lopez family's living expenses since 2003 because his utility bills were lumped in with park utilities, said John Brill, a spokesman for Hillsborough County parks and recreation.

Similar agreements are often made between law enforcement officials and the county, Brill said.

The county last renewed its agreement with Lopez in 2007, believing he still worked as a deputy, the lawsuit stated.

But Lopez said the county knew he was no longer a deputy because he said so when he left his job in 2003.

Not being a deputy isn't the only problem, according to the lawsuit.

As part of his job, the county required Lopez to turn in monthly activity reports. The reports stopped coming in during 2008, and the county received reports of unlocked gates overnight and vagrants using the park as a place to sleep, according to a letter the county sent Lopez in March.

Brill said officials discovered Lopez was not living at the park, but his wife and children were.

"He moved out ,and it looks like his family has been living on the site, and we didn't know that either," he said.

Beginning in March of last year, the county repeatedly asked Lopez to move his family out of the park, according to the lawsuit.

County Attorney Robert Brazel said even if county officials knew Lopez was no longer a deputy, it doesn't matter now.

"Whether he's a deputy or whoever he is, when the county determines they don't want someone on the property anymore, it's up to them," he said.

The mobile home belongs to Lopez. He can either move it or sell to the next person selected by the county to patrol, Brill said, noting that there's a long waiting list of deputies who want to live in county parks.

On Thursday, Lopez, who has two children and runs his own business installing traffic devices, said the reason he has taken so long to move out is that business has been slow.

He said the family has begun packing.

"I would have been gone sooner but the economy has got me in a bind," he said. "The county has been really good about it, though."

A similar issue surfaced in November, when the county sued a former sheriff's deputy, Mike Cartwright, who refused to move out of his mobile home at Saladino Park after he was fired from his position at the Sheriff's Office.

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at (813) 226-3374 or srossetter@sptimes.com.

County sues to evict former deputy from park 02/04/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 12:12am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. President Trump: Nation's culture being 'ripped apart' by Civil War statue removals

    National

    WASHINGTON — Showing his characteristic refusal to back down in the face of criticism, President Donald Trump deepened his defense of Confederate war memorials Thursday, sending out a series of messages on Twitter that adopted the language and arguments of white nationalists who have opposed their removal.

    President Donald Trump points to members of the media as he answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday. Republican leaders on Wednesday tiptoed around Trump's extraordinary comments on white supremacists.  [Associated Press]
  2. With election heating up, Bill Nelson floods Tampa Bay

    Blogs

    Sen. Bill Nelson seems to have set up a residency in Tampa Bay, a crucial area for his upcoming re-election campaign.

    Nelson campaigns with his wife in Orlando in 2012
  3. Martinez Middle School evacuated after bomb threat

    Crime

    LUTZ — Bob Martinez Middle School has been evacuated after someone called in a bomb threat, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Another local Confederate display sparks division, this one over name of the war

    News

    TAMPA — While the Hillsborough County commission was wrestling over the future of Confederate monument at the county courthouse, a lawsuit has been playing out in court over how best to represent the Civil War across town at Veterans Memorial Park.

    Supporters of a Civil War display at Veterans Memorial Park and Museum had a brochure made to attract donations. They argue in a lawsuit that their efforts were thwarted when the park's executive committee changed their plans.
  5. Myrtle Avenue closed, man hospitalized after Clearwater bike crash

    Accidents

    CLEARWATER — Myrtle Avenue is closed in both directions following a bicycle crash that hospitalized a man with serious injuries.