Deputy charged with plan to rob man
He and a suspected accomplice targeted an FDLE officer posing as a drug dealer, officials say.
Elaine Aradillas and Steven D. Barnes
Sentinel Staff Writers
(published) September 12, 2007
A Volusia deputy sheriff and a suspected accomplice were arrested Tuesday on charges they planned to take money from a Florida Department of Law Enforcement officer posing as a drug dealer, officials said.
Deputy Gene Walton, 40, was arrested on one count of unlawful compensation, one count of misuse of confidential information and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. He was held in a separate part of the Volusia County Jail for his protection, with bail set at $21,000.
Harry Cooke, who is not an employee of the Volusia Sheriff's Office, was arrested on one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. He was held at the jail with bail set at $10,000.
Volusia Sheriff Ben Johnson had harsh words for Walton, who had been with the agency 14 years.
"This is not one of the days you enjoy being a sheriff," he said. "I don't want a dirty cop. Cops don't like dirty cops, and that's exactly what he is."
At the time of his arrest, Walton was served with notice of an internal investigation, suspended without pay and served with a notice that the Sheriff's Office intends to terminate his position, said sheriff's spokesman Brandon Haught.
Procedure allows three days for Walton to make an appeal, but he will most likely lose his job at the end of the week, Haught said.
The investigation started two months ago, when the FDLE received a tip. The investigation revealed Walton used the agency's computer system to collect information -- including information about a vehicle -- belonging to the person he thought was a drug dealer, Johnson said.
Walton planned to make a traffic stop and take the drug dealer's money, Johnson said.
"He thought he was ripping off a drug dealer for money," Johnson said. "He was trying to rip off a dope dealer."
Walton, who was a resource officer at Campbell Middle School in Daytona Beach, was working when he was summoned to a district office Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
Haught said Walton's personnel records showed two reprimands in 1996, two years after he was hired, for minor procedural infractions.
For example, instead of calling an ambulance after he stopped a driver and his pregnant wife on their way to a hospital, Walton provided a personal police escort.
Before joining the Sheriff's Office, Walton worked at a post office and as a security supervisor at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, records show.
Johnson said he spoke with Walton when he was arrested.
"I told him, 'You had kids that were looking up to you. You were a role model.'"
Elaine Aradillas can be reached at 407-931-5940 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Steven D. Barnes can be reached at email@example.com or 386-851-7911.