BROOKSVILLE — Best known for his unsuccessful run against incumbent Hernando County Sheriff Rich Nugent in 2008, Luke Frazier was sentenced Monday to six months in jail and five years of probation for organized fraud.
Frazier, 28, brought the case to trial in June, despite a plea offer by Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson that would have required Frazier to pay restitution and serve two years of probation, avoiding any time behind bars.
For nearly a decade, Frazier rented out a home he did not own, according to the Sheriff's Office. He filed a quitclaim deed in 2003 on the two-story house on New Hope Road in Spring Hill, and he submitted two more false deeds after that, investigators said.
The home, in fact, belonged to Richard Goszczynski, records show. Frazier claimed that Goszczynski had signed the deeds. But investigators contacted Goszczynski, who said he'd never met Frazier and that the signature was forged.
Defense attorney Jonathan Zaifert said Frazier lacked the criminal intent of organized fraud. He paid taxes on the property and repaired the house, demonstrating ownership, said Zaifert.
"If that's not evidence of Mr. Frazier's intent to acquire the property legally, I don't know what is," Zaifert said during the two-day trial.
On Monday, Circuit Judge Anthony Tatti listened to an hour of testimony, mostly from family members, about Frazier's character and desire to go to college and become a pilot. His mother, Connie Frazier, a Spring Hill real estate agent, said she and other loved ones had advised Frazier to take possession of what seemed like an abandoned property.
"I feel like he is standing alone over there, bearing all the guilt of those who advised him," she said.
Frazier himself said he was "truly, truly, truly sorry" and asked for a sentence of probation only.
After the sentencing, family members stood outside the courtroom, wiping their eyes.
"I thought it was a really cruel punishment," said Rachel Schuette, 27, Frazier's girlfriend. "I was sure he would just get probation."