Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Clearwater Police Officer Faces Fraud Charges

A Clearwater Police officer has been arrested on three criminal charges following an investigation into workers’ compensation and pension fraud. Scott Penna, who has served with the department since 2013 and was part of the Patrol Division, was taken into custody and booked into Pinellas County Jail on Thursday. He faces charges of grand theft, scheme to defraud, and pension fraud.

“As soon as we became aware of the potential fraud, we immediately launched a criminal investigation and internal investigation,” Police Chief Eric Gandy said.

The investigation revealed that Penna had been on and off light duty following an incident on January 18, 2023, when he was injured while trying to remove an uncooperative subject from the back of his cruiser. The initial injury report indicated that he completed his shift and was not expected to miss any work. However, Penna later underwent two surgeries on his right arm and remained on light duty for much of the time since the incident. On February 22, 2024, he applied for a disability pension, claiming he could no longer perform his duties due to limitations with his right hand. By March 4, 2024, he stated he could no longer drive to work for his light-duty assignment.

Skepticism from the city’s Risk Management Department prompted an investigation, which found that Penna frequently drove his personal vehicle, used both hands and lifted weights at the gym.

“The behaviors exhibited on surveillance video were inconsistent with his alleged disability and limitations,” Gandy said. The chief said that Penna’s actions were an affront to officers who might truly need a disability pension. “It’s reserved for people who really can’t do the job anymore. The officers and taxpayers pay into the system to ensure our first responders are protected and shouldn’t have to worry about someone trying to dupe the system.”

Penna was placed on administrative leave on June 17 and will remain so during the ongoing internal investigation.

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