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Indicted former local corrections officer had prior issues

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Updated: 12/13/2013 9:20 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- (WOKV) A former Jacksonville Sheriff's Office corrections officer who is now federally indicted had a history of problems in and out of the agency.

Our news partner WOKV has continued to investigate Harold Walbey III after learning through federal court records that he was indicted this week for allegedly stealing personal information from inmates and using those to file false tax returns for profit.

Action News has obtained Walbey's personnel file through JSO, which shows 20 various complaints which were sustained and drew consequences. The first came in March 1990, when Walbey received formal counseling for unbecoming conduct. JSO tells me he was employed in 1990, but resigned and sought employment elsewhere before getting rehired in August 1992. He ultimately retired in February 2013.

After he was rehired, the first sustained complaint against him is in September 1994, when he received formal counseling for tardiness. His file shows tardiness was a problem over his 20 years with JSO, with eight sustained complaints between 1994 and November 2001. The penalty for this offense continually escalated, eventually leading to both a 3- and 5-day suspension.

Other complaints in Walbey's record include failure to conform to work standards (three times), incompetency (two times), failure to obey an order, failure to submit timely reports, unbecoming conduct, improper action and two unspecified in-house complaints. While the early complaints led to formal counseling, the penalties escalated to oral and written reprimands as well.

JSO has also confirmed a prior arrest out of Chipley, Florida, where they say Walbey was charged with two counts of child neglect. He failed to report the arrest to JSO although he was employed with the agency at the time, violating self-reporting policies.

Walbey is now facing federal charges for wire fraud and identity theft. Federal investigators believe he stole the personal information for at least eight inmates at Jacksonville's Pre-Trial Detention facility. The indictment obtained by WOKV alleges he would use that information to file federal tax returns and open debit cards, ultimately depositing the money from the tax returns on to the cards.

He has pled not guilty, but faces up to 22 years in federal prison if convicted on all charges. His daughter, Tianna Walbey, was also arrested as part of this investigation.

JSO declined interview requests at this time, but I obtained a statement from Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, who says as soon as they learned about the alleged criminal activity, they launched an investigation.
"Our corrections processes were examined to determine if this kind of fraud is preventable in the corrections environment. Unfortunately, an employee entrusted with access to confidential information breached that trust criminally," the statement from Rutherford said.

He further promises that those responsible will be brought to proper punishment.

Walbey is next scheduled to appear in federal court for a status conference on January 21, 2014.
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