Michelle Quesada, Mar 5, 2018,
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the alleged actions of a West Palm Beach police officer determined the officer committed grand theft and police misconduct, but the officer will not face charges.
The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office said the evidence presented by FDLE did not meet the elements for prosecution. This comes despite the fact that FDLE found six occasions where the lieutenant was paid overtime and was allegedly not working.
An FDLE report says a source came forward with surveillance video from a private investigator showing Lt. Gregory Babcock at home for at least two hours of the eight he clocked in to monitor a waterway as part of the Palm Beach County Manatee Enforcement Grant on December 10, 2016.
The State Attorney’s Office said the theft was a “de minimis amount” that should be handled administratively. The next day surveillance video showed Lt. Babcock worked on a car in his driveway when his time sheet said he worked eight hours of overtime on the Manatee detail. In an interview with FDLE, the senior county clerk said Babcock tried to rectify the error six months later.
“I received an email from Lieutenant Babcock stating that he had entered overtime into Telestaff for eight hours for a Manatee grant and it should have only been three hours,” said Taneisha Potter in the interview with FDLE agent Antonio Mathews.
Mathews then asks Potter to clarify the date of when the incorrect overtime was paid which was in December 2016 and when Babcock sent the email which was in May 2017.
“Did you find that odd?” Mathews asked Potter. “Yes,” she replied.
Babcock reimbursed the county for five hours. FDLE agents claim they found four other occasions when Babcock’s time cards did not match the boat meter readings for the days he was working.
The State Attorney’s Office’s No File Memorandum said, “The meter readings were presented by a biased party. Evidence should be looked at cautiously when the person presenting the evidence appears to have a vendetta, motive or bias.”
FDLE’s source is whistleblower Lt. Frank Alonso who has filed a lawsuit against the city of West Palm Beach. His lawsuit says he filed a report of alleged misconduct with FDLE in February 2017.
The State Attorney’s Office and the West Palm Beach police chief will not comment on this story because there is an ongoing internal affairs investigation.
The Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association also said it cannot provide a comment at this time because of the open case.
Gary Lippman, a former attorney for the PBA said the State Attorney’s Office may have decided the evidence did not meet the elements for prosecution, but if the internal affairs determined Babcock did commit police misconduct or grand theft, he could face de-certification and risk losing his pension.