RIVERVIEW — The wife of a Manatee County deputy faces burglary and grand theft charges after, deputies say, she broke into a Riverview house and moved her family in.
Jeanella Pollock, 51, filed an "adverse possession" form with the Hillsborough Property Appraiser's Office on Feb. 15 and, according to Hillsborough deputies, she moved into a toffee-colored house at 6915 Potomac Circle with her husband and teenage children.
They changed the locks and turned on the water and electric service.
Hillsborough deputies noticed.
After an investigation of several months, they arrested Pollock on Thursday. Her husband of 21 years, Manatee County gang deputy Leon Pollock, has not been charged.
However, his Sheriff's Office has put him on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
It was a startling shift for a deputy who in 2007 won an award for his work in foster care. Pollock and his wife have adopted eight foster children since they opened their home to foster children in 1995, according to the Bradenton Herald.
"Adverse possession" has been on Hillsborough deputies' radar the past two years. It's an obscure legal concept that deputies say criminals have been misusing in order to break into homes that are not theirs.
Under Florida Statute 95.18, people can ask a judge to declare abandoned property theirs if they fix it up and occupy it for seven years while paying the taxes. Many, like Jeanella Pollock, don't try to hide, deputies say. Instead, they file the correct form with the property appraiser's office, starting the seven-year clock.
The problem? Deputies say that in the meantime, adverse possessors are trespassing. And if they change the locks and treat the house as theirs, they may also be burglarizing. Hillsborough authorities have arrested several others who tried to use adverse possession — but this is the first time the family includes a law enforcement officer.
The home's owner, 62-year-old Sharon Bond, was notified by the property appraiser's office, which sent a letter to her Alabama home.
She told detectives that she had not given anyone permission to move into her home, which is valued at $135,000. She said it was vacant because she had been forced to move out due to money problems. She was negotiating with the bank to catch up on the mortgage payment, she said.
The Pollock family has since moved out of the Riverview house. On Thursday, Jeanella Pollock was arrested at her new home, in Ruskin.
This is her first arrest in Hillsborough, according to county records.
Detectives are continuing to investigate to determine if anyone else should face charges.
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3433.