Thursday, September 20, 2018
Public safety

Two Hernando sheriff's deputies resign after being charged with theft of money

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis stood before a row of television cameras and began what he called a distasteful task.

Two of the sheriff's veteran employees had been arrested earlier Friday morning in unrelated theft cases.

"Both of these individuals took an oath, and both have betrayed that oath," Nienhuis said during a news conference.

Deputy Michael Glatfelter, 51, was charged with two counts of grand theft and one count of organized fraud, all third-degree felonies.

Sgt. Joseph Reid, 41, was charged with one count of grand theft, also a third-degree felony.

Glatfelter, a 24-year employee, is accused of stealing roughly $14,000 from a local Fraternal Order of Police bank account, plus another $1,040 from a fund set up to help the family of Capt. Scott Bierwiler, who was killed in a crash while driving to work in 2009, Nienhuis said.

Glatfelter, who served as treasurer for FOP Lodge No. 74 from 2006 to early 2010, used an FOP card to withdraw about $8,300 from automatic tellers and to make about $5,700 in personal purchases at Walmart, Circuit City and other outlets, Nienhuis said. Among the items Glatfelter allegedly bought were chewing tobacco, vitamins and groceries.

In November 2011, Glatfelter took $1,041 that remained in the Bierwiler fund and closed the account, Nienhuis said.

"When you steal money from a widow and her family, particularly the widow of somebody who died serving their county, it's tough, and it makes us very, very angry," Nienhuis said.

The criminal investigation began in August after a tip. Detectives discovered that Glatfelter had altered records to cover up his transactions. During a Dec. 20 interview with investigators, Glatfelter admitted to making the fraudulent purchases and trying to make them look legitimate, Nienhuis said.

Reid is accused of taking, borrowing or otherwise using at least $2,784 from a fund used by the vice and narcotics unit for drug buys and expenses.

Nienhuis said Reid has not been interviewed by detectives but that the sergeant was having "money problems." Asked to elaborate, Nienhuis replied: "Just having a lot more bills than money coming in."

Capt. Tom Garcia, Reid's supervisor, used his own money on at least one occasion to reconcile the money taken by Reid. Garcia remains on paid administrative leave pending an ongoing internal investigation, Nienhuis said. The sheriff promoted Garcia last month.

The investigation of Reid continues. An audit of the unit's books this month showed no other criminal discrepancies, Nienhuis said.

Glatfelter and Reid both resigned Thursday and turned themselves in on outstanding warrants Friday morning. Glatfelter was released from the Citrus County Detention Facility on $4,000 bail. Reid posted $2,000 bail at the Hernando County Detention Center.

Reid was hired in 2001 and has a blemish-free personnel file. As part of his resignation agreement, he must forfeit a significant portion of his accrued sick and vacation time. He will receive a total payout of 171.5 hours at his regular pay in exchange for signing a waiver of rights.

Brooksville attorney Sam Lea, who represented Reid in the negotiations over his resignation and expects to represent him in his criminal case, declined to comment Friday.

Glatfelter joined the agency in 1989 and, according to the Sheriff's Office, had one minor written reprimand in 2008. He signed a two-sentence resignation letter terminating his participation in the state's deferred retirement plan.

"Thank you for the opportunity to serve this County and the people who live here," he wrote.

Glatfelter could not be reached for comment by the Times.

For FOP representative Steve Klapka, Glatfelter's apparent betrayal mars a 35-year relationship.

"I've never been this disgusted, sick and angry in my entire life," Klapka said.

The cash in the fund apparently was the remnants from fundraising efforts, including donations from the public and other FOP lodges, Klapka said.

Scott Bierwiler's widow, Angie, called the allegations disheartening. She said her husband considered Glatfelter a friend.

"I hate to think that he possibly hurt his career, having survived as a law enforcement officer for this long," she said. "It really is very heartbreaking."

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