A Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigation led to the arrest of former Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) detective Trent Kellee Freeman on forgery and fraud charges Tuesday afternoon.
According to a GCSO press release, the sheriff’s office noticed irregularities in Freeman’s medical leave filings and requested FDLE to investigate. FDLE agents discovered Freeman filed multiple sets of fraudulent Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) paperwork, forged the signatures of area doctors to support her false claims of extensive hospitalization for severe COVID-19 and other medical issues.
The investigation revealed that Freeman, 38, of Bronson, fraudulently solicited and received 219 sick leave hours from her colleagues, defrauding GCSO of around $3,727, according to the release. Instead of being comatose in the hospital she claimed to be at, Freeman had started working at a full-time private-sector non law enforcement job early in her scheme which she applied at before filing the fraudulent FMLA paperwork.
“We believe in accountability at the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office, which is why we brought this case to FDLE,” said GCSO Sheriff Bobby Shultz in the press release. “No matter the circumstances or situation, we will strive to make sure our employees do the right thing at all times. This is an unfortunate situation, but this in no way represents the men and women as a whole who work at the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office.”
Freeman, who was hired by GCSO in 2018, was booked into the Levy County Jail on a $50,000 bond and the case will be sent to the State Attorney's Office for the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
FDLE special agent Matthew Walsh from the Jacksonville office said the arrest was a result of agencies working together.
"As soon as Sheriff Schultz was made aware or suspected that a crime may have been committed he contacted us at the FDLE," he said. "Cooperation and relationships is what brought this investigation to a conclusion today."
- Mainstreet Daily News reporter Suzette Cook contributed to this story.