A Florida sheriff’s deputy brought a woman to her lawyer’s office while he was in uniform, removed one of her family members as power of attorney, and assumed the role himself, according to federal court documents.
Now he’s accused of stealing thousands of dollars without her knowledge.
Scott P. Haines, a 49-year-old former deputy with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office in the Florida Panhandle, was indicted on charges of wire fraud and making false statements in the Northern District of Florida, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. Court filings show Haines was arrested Jan. 25.
He could not be reached for comment, and information regarding his defense attorney was not available.
The circumstances of Haines’ exit from the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office was not clear, and a spokesperson for the agency did not immediately respond to a McClatchy News request for comment.
Posts on the department Facebook page show Haines held the rank of sergeant and captain at various points dating back to 2013.
According to the grand jury indictment, the alleged fraud started in January 2015 and involved a woman over 65 years old who owned property in Santa Rosa County through a company called Skirpan Properties LLC.
After taking over power of attorney, prosecutors said, Haines amended the articles of organization for Skirpan Properties to remove several of the woman’s family members. Documents filed with the Florida Division of Corporations show the changes were made at the end of 2015.
Two individuals identified as a manager and authorized member of the business were removed from the articles of incorporation and another person with the same initials of Haines’ victim was added in their place, documents show.
Prosecutors said Haines then used his position in the sheriff’s department to look up information on the victim, members of her family and other individuals related to Skirpan Properties using national and state crime databases. He also made himself the designated beneficiary on the woman’s personal checking account, according to the indictment.
At some point in the alleged fraud, Haines began evicting the woman’s tenants and depositing rental payments from her properties into his personal bank account, prosecutors said.
Haines, who is from Milton, Florida, is accused of stealing more than $10,000 from her between 2015 and 2021.
When the FBI interviewed him in May, Haines reportedly lied about the evictions and rental payments while claiming he knew nothing about the woman’s last will and testament, the indictment says. In truth, prosecutors said, Haines had a copy of her will in which he was named.
Haines has also been arrested on state charges relating to the exploitation of an elderly person, theft from a person 65 or older, and unauthorized access of a computer system or network. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he appeared in state court after making his initial appearance on the federal charges.
A trial date for the federal case has been set for March 7 in Pensacola, Florida.