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Sheriff's Office overlooked employee's warrant

LARGO — If Pinellas deputies had been looking for Camille Rentz, wanted on a worthless check charge, she would not have been hard to find. Rentz worked as a detention deputy at the county jail during the nearly five years that the warrant for her arrest was active.

Rentz still works for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, now as a deputy assigned to the bailiff section. She has served a one-day suspension and completed a financial management course. But an internal investigation released this week explains how authorities overlooked the charges against her.

Deputies weren't actively looking for Rentz because the charge was a misdemeanor, and felony warrants take priority, an agency spokesman said Friday.

So Rentz wasn't arrested until Feb. 9, when she was pulled over by police in St. Petersburg after an officer noticed that the tag on the car she was driving did not match the vehicle's registration. When the officer ran her name through a criminal database, he discovered that her license had been suspended in 2003 and that she was wanted on the worthless check charge, according to the report.

Rentz said a mechanic had switched the tag, but she didn't know why. She later said it was done for her protection "based upon a threat she received at the jail."

Rentz was arrested on the check charge in June 2005. The warrant was issued the following month when she failed to appear in court.

At the time, the Sheriff's Office had detectives specifically tasked with tracking down wanted persons. That unit has since been disbanded due to budget cuts. Now, all deputies are responsible for picking up people with active warrants when time permits among their other duties, said Sgt. Tom Nestor.

The agency has no system in place to flag employees when warrants are transmitted, Nestor said. And with more than 2,600 employees, it would be difficult to recognize a deputy's name among more than 50,000 active warrants, he said.

Court records show Rentz has racked up more than a dozen citations since 1989 for infractions. She was convicted twice in 2004 for driving on a suspended license.

Sheriff's Office overlooked employee's warrant 10/01/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 1, 2010 11:29pm]
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