WEST PALM BEACH
Minutes after a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy tearfully apologized for using his position to propel an estimated $250,000 identity theft scheme, a federal judge on Tuesday sentenced him to five years in prison and ordered him to pay $175,000 in restitution.
While U.S. Donald Middlebrooks acknowledged those who wrote letters and testified to Frantz Felisma’s good works, he said the seven-year deputy — who his attorney called a “super hero in the Haitian community” — violated a sacred trust.
“The trust between the community and law enforcement is fragile as we’ve seen so often in this country,” Middlebrooks said. “Law enforcement officers have to be held to a high standard.”
Felisma, who was named Deputy of the Year for the Delray Beach District in December and was a goalie for the Haitian national soccer team, admitted he used his access to a law enforcement database to get personal information about the owners of Jaguars, Mercedes, Bentleys and other expensive cars. He gave the information to convicted swindler Kesner Joaseus, a 47-year-old Wellington man who used it to get credit cards in the car owners’ names, prosecutors say.
More than a dozen people were affected, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Jorgensen told Middlebrooks. Banks lost “tens of thousands of dollars,” she said.
“You have a person in a unique position of authority who used his access to confidential information and he did it over and over again,” she said.