Florida

A sheriff’s deputy is accused of helping an identity thief get what he needed

Frantz Felisma in Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office uniform that prosecutors say he wore while using his job to get an identity thief personal information.
Frantz Felisma in Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office uniform that prosecutors say he wore while using his job to get an identity thief personal information.

A South Florida sheriff’s deputy has been indicted in a federal case that accuses him of assisting an identity thief.

Frantz Felisma, 42, faces four counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of access device fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud. His alleged co-conspirator, Kesner Joaseus, already pleaded guilty to access device fraud and mail fraud.

Once federal prosecutors hooked Joaseus, he described how Felisma helped in the crimes. Joaseus said he would spot swanky cars, take down their license plates and take that information to Felisma.

The indictment accuses Felisma of using his law enforcement laptop to run the plates through the Florida Criminal Information Center database for Joaseus. That would give Felisma the person’s name, address, birth date, Social Security number and driver's license information which, the indictment says, he would pass along to Joaseus.

The indictment says Joaseus would use the information to get credit cards in the identity theft victims’ names. Joaseus told the feds that the arrangement worked from January 2013 through September 2014 on at least 50 car owners. Felisma’s fee for this service, according to the indictment: $10,000 per month.

After Felisma’s December arrest, prosecutors successfully argued that he be held without bond. To show that Felisma might not be above threatening Joaseus or Joaseus’ family, they pointed to a 2011 incident between Felisma and a nightclub DJ.

Felisma, in uniform, drove to the nightclub and had an argument with a DJ that he attempted to win by pulling a gun or a taser, witnesses said. When the DJ called 911, Felisma left without calling for backup.

Prosecutors also noted that though Felisma is a U.S. citizen, he still visits his native Haiti and his mother still lives there.

Prosecutors said he faces seven or eight years in federal prison. They say he has explained his actions by claiming to be investigating Joaseus for 20 months.

Felisma is on administrative leave without pay. His supporters have set up a "Justice for Frantz Felisma" Facebook page.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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