A Lake County sheriff corrections officer has been charged after officials say he falsified his time card, totaling over $20,000 in payout for work he did not actually do.
Manuel Duarte, 35, of the 38300 block of North Holdridge Avenue in Beach Park, has been charged with one count of theft, a Class 2 felony, and one count of official misconduct, a Class 3 felony.
Lake County Sheriff correctional command members found a discrepancy in Duarte’s electronic time card in June, the sheriff’s office said.
Corrections command notified the sheriff’s administrative command and Sheriff John Idleburg ordered an internal investigation to be conducted by the Office of Professional Standards. Duarte was placed on administrative leave.
“A comprehensive investigation found Duarte modified his electronic timecards to include overtime hours for hours he did not actually work,” Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli said.
The investigation revealed the misconduct occurred on various time cards dating back to November 2017, which resulted in the payout of over $20,000.
The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office approved charges on Wednesday and an arrest warrant was signed by a Lake County judge.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Warrants Team arrested Duarte at his residence in Beach Park Wednesday afternoon. Duarte appeared in a bond hearing and was ordered held in the Lake County Jail on a $200,000 bond.
“I am extremely disappointed that a member of our Office would violate their oath and the public’s trust. Neither I, nor our staff, will tolerate an employee violating the laws we are sworn to enforce,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.
“We enlisted to serve the community, not take advantage of the community. This rogue corrections officer is not a reflection of the hard-working personnel we have, who dedicate themselves to serving the Lake County Community,” Idleburg added.
Idleburg, who was sworn-in in December, conducted an assessment of the internal structure, effectiveness, and efficiency of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office shortly after taking office. Following the assessment, Idleburg made several internal changes, including the promotion of new executive-level leadership in the Lake County Jail.
The newly placed jail leadership has been making ongoing changes to previously existing policy and procedure, optimizing operational efficiency and ensuring internal compliance, according to the sheriff’s office.
The employment termination process has been initiated for Duarte, who is scheduled to appear in court again on Thursday.