Eric Wright, a Broward County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant, was arrested after investigators accused him of committing tax fraud, according to news reports. Wright, 50, was booked into Broward County Jail last Friday on 14 counts of grand theft and one count of organized scheme to defraud less than $20,000, sources indicate. He was subsequently released on $15,000 bail bond. It remains unclear whether Wright has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
According to press reports, Wright has worked for the Broward Sheriff’s Office for 28 years. He reportedly started at the Deerfield Beach Police Department in 1983 and was picked up by the Broward Sheriff’s Office in 1987. He is currently on unpaid leave pending the charges, and will lose his job if convicted, sources indicate. Before that, he was suspended with pay in June 2011 when the investigation into his alleged offenses first detected suspicious on-duty activity. There is no indication that he was ever in trouble with the Sheriff’s office prior to the current allegations.
The arrest warrant, which was released on June 8, reportedly states that Wright is suspected of committing the alleged offenses between August 5, 2010 and May 27, 2011. The investigation into his activities was apparently launched after police department employees monitoring off-duty jobs of police officered noticed that Wright was assigned to shifts that coincided with his shifts at the police department. Such monitoring is completely routine for the department, sources indicate.
The Sheriff’s office first confirmed that Wright had not received permission to take the time off, according to reports. Then detectives then used a GPS tracker, SunPass records, and cell phone signals to confirm that Wright was working other jobs while on-duty. Wright was placed on leave soon after the investigation discovered the discrepancies.
Wright was reportedly assigned to a supervisor position in Weston, for which he was supposed to work 40 hours a week in four night shifts from 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. in Weston. However, prosecutors allege that Wright was working shifts at a restaurant in Pompano Beach and a school in Deerfield Beach (or simply skipping work) on 14 occasions between August 2010 and May 2011. One of the jobs was reportedly about 30 miles away from the Weston post where he was supposed to be working. Wright also allegedly left work early or came in late without permission on several occasions.
It is not clear whether the institutions where Wright allegedly worked were aware of what was happening, nor is it clear what positions Wright allegedly held at his other jobs. The names of the restaurant and school have not been released to the public. Wright himself also does not appear to have commented publicly on the allegations.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office purportedly believes that Wright stole about $10,000 in wages through usurping his responsibilities with the department. “Stealing from the public that we serve is the worst violation of the public trust that I can imagine. It won’t be tolerated and he’s going to be dealt with appropriately,” one Sheriff’s deputy was quoted as saying in regards to the allegations.