Records: Ex-deputy stole from sus­pects while mak­ing ar­rests

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Grace Toohey

A former Or­ange County deputy who stole hun­dreds of dol­lars from a sus­pect dur­ing an ar­rest in 2017 was later con­victed of steal­ing money from a dif­fer­ent sus­pect in an­other case, records show.

Deputy Joseph Had­dad’s first ar­rest came in Septem­ber 2017, af­ter of­fi­cials in Osce­ola County found he stole a sus­pect’s wal­let dur­ing an ar­rest and then used the man’s credit cards at Tar­get and Wal­mart. He re­signed from the Or­ange Sher­iff’s Of­fice in July 2018 af­ter be­ing con­victed in that case.

In the sec­ond case against him, which has not pre­vi­ously been re­ported, Had­dad was ac­cused of tak­ing $160 in cash from a sus­pect he helped ar­rest for mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion in Au­gust 2017. He was later con­victed of theft in April 2019.

OCSO’s Pro­fes­sional Stan­dards di­vi­sion com­pleted its probe of the Au­gust 2017 theft in Oc­to­ber. The re­port was ob­tained by the Or­lando Sen­tinel through a pub­lic record re­quest. The in­ter­nal re­view found Had­dad vi­o­lated agency pol­icy on con­for­mance to laws.

The agency has not re­viewed other cases Had­dad worked to de­ter­mine if there was a more wide­spread pat­tern of thefts. Spokes­woman Michelle Guido said the two cases were the only ones that have been brought to the pro­fes­sional stan­dards divi

sion, which in­ves­ti­gates deputy mis­con­duct.

Had­dad was hired in May 2016 and worked in uni­form pa­trol.

“An al­le­ga­tion sur­faced and that al­le­ga­tion was thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated,” Guido said. “Dur­ing that in­ves­ti­ga­tion, an­other mat­ter was brought to light and that was in­ves­ti­gated as well. If OCSO had un­cov­ered any other in­stances of wrong­do­ing, those would have been ad­dressed as well.”

Had­dad re­fused to be in­ter­viewed by pro­fes­sional stan­dards, the re­port said. His at­tor­ney, Justin In­furna, de­clined to com­ment when reached by the Sen­tinel, be­yond not­ing the in­ci­dents hap­pened years ago.

In the Septem­ber 2017 case, Had­dad and Deputy Conor Le­na­han re­sponded to a bur­glary, but later de­ter­mined the vic­tim was in pos­ses­sion of drugs. They ar­rested the man, who later said his wal­let — in­clud­ing $1,700 in cash — went miss­ing dur­ing the ar­rest. The fol­low­ing day, the man re­ceived bank no­ti­fi­ca­tions his cards were used at Tar­get and Wal­mart. In­ves­ti­ga­tors linked those pur­chases to Had­dad and his wife.

Had­dad pleaded guilty to fraud­u­lent use of per­sonal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion in­for­ma­tion and un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of a stolen credit or debit card in that case, court records show.

Af­ter his con­vic­tion, OCSO in­ves­ti­ga­tors asked Le­na­han if he had any other in­for­ma­tion about Had­dad, ac­cord­ing to the pro­fes­sional stan­dards re­port.

Le­na­han said he re­called an­other ar­rest in which the sus­pect “al­leged he was miss­ing money from his wal­let,” ac­cord­ing to the re­port. That deputy be­gan “point­ing out sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Had­dad’s re­cent ar­rest and [the sus­pect’s] al­le­ga­tion,” the re­port said.

That case be­gan the night of Aug. 15, 2017, when Le­na­han found a sus­pi­cious ve­hi­cle stopped in­side a park. When he ap­proached, he smelled mar­i­juana com­ing from in­side the ve­hi­cle, the ar­rest re­port said. Af­ter the driver ad­mit­ted smok­ing mar­i­juana, Le­na­han asked the two oc­cu­pants to get out and be­gan search­ing them and the ve­hi­cle. He also called for backup.

Le­na­han searched the ve­hi­cle, find­ing more than 20 grams of mar­i­juana in plas­tic bags, the re­port said. Had­dad ar­rived on scene as backup, and Le­na­han asked him to help se­cure the sus­pect as he fin­ished search­ing the ve­hi­cle.

“[Le­na­han] re­called ob­serv­ing mul­ti­ple bills in­side [the sus­pect’s] wal­let when he ini­tially searched him and be­fore Deputy Had­dad’s ar­rival to the scene,” the re­port said. Le­na­han said he didn’t count the money, but said it was clear there were mul­ti­ple bills.

In an in­ter­view with OCSO about the in­ci­dent, the sus­pect said he re­mem­bered Had­dad count­ing the money, drop­ping one bill to the ground be­fore pick­ing it back up, the re­port said. Le­na­han said he also saw Had­dad take money out of the wal­let and look at it, but nei­ther saw Had­dad’s next move with the wal­let, the re­port said. At the jail, the sus­pect asked Lana­han if he could “check his wal­let and make sure he has his cash,” the re­port said. The deputy agreed, open­ing the wal­let and find­ing only $20 in cash.

The man said he had $180 in cash in his wal­let be­fore the ar­rest and noted that Had­dad had been “look­ing at the money,” the re­port said. Le­na­han said he knew the sus­pect had more than $20 in the wal­let be­fore the ar­rest, but did not know the ex­act amount, the re­port said.

While still in jail, the man called a friend to check his car for the money, but the friend did not find it, the re­port said. “It is pre­sumed the only rea­son [the sus­pect] re­tained pos­ses­sion of the re­main­ing $20 bill was be­cause there were wit­nesses present when Deputy Had­dad in­ad­ver­tently, but con­spic­u­ously, dropped it and re­turned it to [his] wal­let,” the re­port said.

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