WATCH: Florida Sheriff’s Deputy Gets Probation in Thefts During Arrests

Florida – A former Volusia County deputy labeled by his sheriff as a “thieving idiot” after being caught by his own body camera stealing cash from a driver he arrested was placed on probation for four years as part of a plea agreement.

Former deputy John Braman, 35, entered no contest pleas to two counts of petty theft, three counts of official misconduct and one count of grand theft as part of a deal which the sheriff said should have called for harsher penalties.

Adjudication was withheld on all the charges for Braman as part of the plea agreement worked out between 7th Circuit State Attorney R.J. Larizza’s office and defense attorney Mike Lambert. That means the charges won’t go down as convictions on Braman’s record if he successfully completes his four years of probation. Prosecutors also dismissed a charge of possession of stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said on Friday he was not consulted by Larizza’s office about the plea deal with Braman and would defer to prosecutors. But Chitwood, who called Braman a “thieving idiot” and “common thief” who had no business in law enforcement when the allegations first came to light, said Braman should have received a harsher punishment.

“I do think that on these cases where you use your badge and you betray public trust and you tarnish all of us hard working police officers, no matter what the color of our uniform is, I think there should be a stricter penalty for that,” Chitwood said.

He said Braman should have done some time.

“I think he should have been a year in jail,” Chitwood said. “I’m thinking he should have done a year in jail and he should have had those felony convictions not withheld.”

When asked whether Braman received lenient treatment, Larizza’s spokesman Bryan Shorstein denied it, writing in a text that prosecutors and the investigating agency were satisfied that Braman paid restitution and that he lost his license to be a law enforcement officer forever. Shorstein wrote that the victim was also satisfied. The case was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“If someone has never been arrested before, it is common to get a withhold of adjudication,” Shorstein wrote.

Chitwood said he didn’t want to destroy Braman’s future, “But by the same token he has to stand up, take ownership for what you did, pay the price and then move on in life,” Chitwood said.

The grand theft and official misconduct counts are each third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and or a $5,000 fine. The petty theft is up to a year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. The charge of possession of schedule III substance, a third-degree felony.

Braman entered the no contest pleas at a hearing on Thursday before Circuit Judge Kathryn Weston at the S. James Foxman Justice Center.

Braman received four-years’ probation on each of the felony counts to be served concurrently and time served on the misdemeanors, although computer records do not indicate he spent any time in the county jail due to the charges.

Braman must also again surrender his law enforcement certificate even though the agreement states he already surrendered it.

Braman is now working as a long-distance truck driver, according to the plea agreement.

“His life is much better,” Lambert wrote in an email about Braman. “He’s embarrassed and knows he was wrong, wants to make amends and show who the real John Braman is.”

Braman earned $60,000 a year at the Sheriff’s Office. Braman was lauded for his bravery in 2011 when he and another deputy, John Brady, were shot but still managed to disarm and arrest the shooter.

The shooter was Corey Reynolds, who was found guilty of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and attempted second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer. Reynolds was sentenced to two life terms to run concurrently.

The 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach sent the Reynolds case back to circuit court for a judge to decide whether he should get a new trial because his original defense attorney did not pursue a defense of “involuntary intoxication,” which has to do with the lawful use of prescription drugs.

Reynolds, acting as his own attorney, filed a motion seeking to have his convictions overturned, arguing in part that Braman’s not credible because of the ex-deputy’s crimes.

But since then he has gained an attorney, Peyton Quarles, who said that Braman’s criminal record could come into play during negotiations for a plea agreement or at a retrial for Reynolds.

“He is the key witness,” Quarles said of Braman.

Quarles also said that the withhold of adjudication means that if Braman were asked at a trial whether he had ever been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving theft or dishonesty, Braman could answer “No.”

Braman resigned from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 30, 2017, after he came under investigation.

The plea also requires Braman to pay $200 restitution to Thomas French. It was the French case that started Braman’s downfall.

Braman’s body camera captured him plucking two $100 bills from a wallet belonging to French. Braman took the money while arresting French on Aug. 1, 2016 on a charge of DUI.

Flem Whited, a defense attorney representing French, was reviewing the video when he saw Braman taking the money and reported it to prosecutors. Charges were eventually dropped against French.

Braman must also pay $900 restitution to Mikel “Alex” Gordon. Braman was accused of stealing money from Gordon while investigating a disturbance in Holly Hill. Braman took a wad of cash out of Gordon’s back pocket and then placed the money back in his pocket. Braman’s body camera stopped recording as he talked to Gordon. The camera started recording again as Braman sat in his patrol car and it showed cash on top of the deputy’s agency-issued laptop.

Gordon said he had at least $1,200 and up to $1,500 because he was saving to buy a car. But he said only $600 was returned to him when he was released from jail.

Braman must also pay $40 restitution to Willie Humphrey, who was 72, on Dec. 19, 2016 when he was arrested on a charge of resisting an officer without violence.

The allegations against Braman led the State Attorney’s Office to dismiss charges in 18 cases which depended on Braman’s testimony. Prosecutors dropped charges in cases, including driving under the influence and battery on a law enforcement officer, “Due to obvious concerns regarding Braman’s credibility.”

Whited said Braman owes his client $600 because under civil statutes French is entitled to triple damages.

Whited said he has represented 20 to 25 police officers over the years, mostly in DUI-type cases.

“They always seem to expect, just because I’ve been a cop I should get special treatment rather than I’m a cop and I should be held to a higher standard,” Whited said.

Whited commended prosecutors for not downgrading the felonies to misdemeanors.

“At least they stuck to their guns on the felony part,” Whited said.

And the stain will follow Braman for the rest of his life due to the internet, he said.

“He’s pretty much ruined,” Whited said.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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