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Polk Co. Sheriff's Office volunteer sold drugs out of patrol car, sheriff says

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TAMPA (WFLA) — The Polk County Sheriff Office announced Friday that one of its volunteers was arrested on drug trafficking charges Thursday.

The sheriff’s office said that David Roberts, 69, of Lake Wales was accused of selling oxycodone pills out of a sheriff’s patrol car he was given to drive by the department.

“I’m pissed,” Judd said.

Judd said Robert had prescription for 90 oxycodone pills a month for the last two years. He sold the extra ones he didn’t take himself.

Upon learning about Roberts’ drug activity, the sheriff’s office set up an undercover operation.

Judd said they set up a meeting with the suspect, and when they got to the location in Lake Wales, they found Roberts in a patrol car an his sheriff’s uniform with the pills.

“He wouldn’t be in it for long, but he’s in it now,” the sheriff said.

Deputies followed Roberts out of the parking lot and arrested him a different location.

Judd said Roberts signed a waiver allowing deputies to search his house, where they found marijuana and two guns.

After Roberts was arrested, they found he had a felony conviction from a burglary 50 years ago that was missed during the volunteer screening process. The screening was done by someone no longer with the department.

“Had this background check been done appropriately 12 years ago, he wouldn’t be here,” Judd said.

Before this incident, he said others described Roberts as a stellar volunteer.

“I am hotter than a bare butt on tin roof in August,” Judd said. “That makes me so crazy that I want to pluck my eyeballs out one at a time.”

The screening process isn’t as strenuous as the one sheriff’s office employees go through, according to the sheriff.

Judd said they are going to go back over volunteer files again.

“We love our volunteers at the sheriff’s office,” he said. “We are grateful for our volunteers; we love them. They do so much good work. And this has embarrassed every one of them.”

Roberts worked for the sheriff’s office as volunteer sheriff’s service officer for 12 years. Volunteers like Roberts are tasked with helping sworn-in deputies with writing reports, handling paperwork on past-occurred crimes, and responding to minor injury traffic crashes, according to the sheriff’s office website.

He was charged with possession of a vehicle used to traffic drugs, possess of narcotic paraphernalia, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, unlawful use of a 2-way communication device, possession of cannabis over 20 grams, trafficking in Oxycodone 25 grams or more, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The drug charges carry a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years.

Roberts went before a Polk County Judge on Friday afternoon. His bond was set at $59,500. His next court appearance is an arraignment on June 2 at 1 p.m.

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