Friday, February 23, 2018
Public safety

Hernando school district official avoids felony fraud charge

BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando school district administrator has dodged a felony fraud charge.

Douglas Compton, the district's director of transportation, pleaded guilty on Friday to attempted use of personal information, a first-degree misdemeanor. He had been charged with fraudulent use of personal information, a third-degree felony.

The case hit a wall when the alleged victim, Compton's ex-wife, stopped returning calls, said Assistant State Attorney Matt Pila.

"It was really weird," Pila said. "She was so gung-ho about it and then fell off the face of the earth. Without a victim, there's no case."

Compton, 44, will stay in his current position and likely will not face any disciplinary action, said superintendent Bryan Blavatt.

"We looked at the state guidelines, and since this was a misdemeanor violation … our determination is that he'll continue," Blavatt said. "At this point, it's closed for us."

Compton was arrested July 25 after he used Debra Sloan's identity without her permission to secure a student loan, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities said Compton used Sloan's name, date of birth and Social Security number to help him take out a $7,000 loan. He got the loan in May 2011, 14 months after their divorce.

Compton gave a markedly different account. He told authorities he called Sloan on the phone after their divorce, and she gave him the necessary information so he could use her as a co-signer on the loan, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Sloan said that wasn't true, telling investigators the former couple had spoken only once since the divorce, when Compton called about a small kitchen appliance. She told authorities there is no way she would have helped him after the divorce.

Compton stands by his account and maintains his innocence, despite the guilty plea, which was in his best interest, said his attorney, Ashley Aulls.

"Mr. Compton was a victim of an angry ex-wife whose own family didn't believe her," Aulls said.

Aulls tried without success to serve Sloan with a subpoena summoning her for a deposition.

Pila said Sloan, who apparently lives in Pasco County and typically called back within 24 hours, still hasn't returned the message he left about two weeks ago warning that he would have to reduce the charge if he didn't hear from her.

When she didn't call, Pila agreed to the deal. The court withheld adjudication, and Compton was given a year of probation and ordered to pay fines and costs of $498.50.

He does not have to pay restitution because his former wife didn't suffer any financial loss in the case, Pila said.

"She was mainly worried about her credit," Pila said, noting that the guilty plea would be helpful if Sloan wants to file a civil suit against Compton.

Sloan could not be reached for comment.

Formerly employed in the Pinellas school district's transportation department, Compton joined the Hernando district in May 2012, three months before his arrest. He earns $79,225 a year.

Tony Marrero can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1431. Reach Danny Valentine at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. Tweet them @HernandoTimes.

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