Make us your home page

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.


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

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

  1. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store


    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  2. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  3. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  4. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  5. Fennelly: About time Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    It's Andy's time.

    And it's about time.

    Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He had been eligible since 2009, a ridiculously long wait for someone who scored 640 goals, including a record 274 on the power play.

    LEFT: Dave Andreychuk talks at the podium as he is honored with a statue in front of the now-Amalie Arena.