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Dog-Sitter Sold Canine and Tried to Stage 79-Year-Old Owner’s Suicide, Sheriff Says

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Frankie Eugene Bybee was supposed to watch a 79-year-old woman’s dog while she was hospitalized. Except he allegedly embezzled money meant for the canine’s care; sold the animal on Craigslist; made out four checks to himself and his children totaling $65,000; and in an attempt to hide this from investigators, tried to kill the woman by staging a suicide, according to deputies. How did she almost die?  He allegedly tried to force-feed her medication and filled her home with carbon monoxide gas from a running car in the garbage. Incidentally, he’s worked with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office for 18 years. That employment status may change after his co-workers arrested him Monday morning.

“He’s a criminal,” Sheriff Thomas Knight said at a press conference, explaining that Bybee wasn’t being honest with investigators. “And he’s acting like a criminal. And so thus he gets arrested and treated like a criminal. And he’ll get prosecuted like a criminal. And I hope he gets prosecuted a little more exceptionally than a normal criminal because he used the uniform for public trust.”

According to the Sheriff, Bybee has been investigated five times for violating department policy, and was suspended several times. Knight said they started the paperwork to kick him off the SCSO, but can’t do it unilaterally because of Florida law.

Bybee now faces charges for exploitation of the elderly, petty theft, forgery, grand theft, burglary of an occupied dwelling, battery of a victim 65 years and older, and attempted murder. The investigation is ongoing.

The SCSO confirmed to LawNewz.com that Bybee actually sued Knight in 2015.

“The lawsuit you are referring to will not impact our investigation as the two are completely separate and unrelated,” a law enforcement spokesperson wrote.

Bybee claimed he got demoted from detective to patrol deputy in retaliation for criticizing an RV company on YouTube. That company had been owned by people who he claimed were political supporters of the sheriff. Knight disputed this claim in court.

Update – Jan. 23, 2:31 p.m.: To the text above, we’ve added comment from the SCSO, and supplementary information on Bybee’s lawsuit.

Update – May 5, 2017, 6:00 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly phrased the line as “How did she die?” It has been changed to “How did she almost die?”

[mugshot via Sarasota County]

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