Patrica “Shelley” Wolfman, with “Eyes on You Investigative Services” of Eustis Florida, was arrested on Saturday, November 15, 2008 at approximately 10:30 pm. Ms. Wolfman has been charged by the Lady Lake, Florida Police Department for impersonating a police officer. She was apparently attempting to gain entry to private property and in doing so, allegedly flashed a concealed handgun and a badge to the property manager that read “Detective of Lake County, Florida”. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office found no record of a law enforcement official or deputized officer by that name.
Many states have laws stating a private investigator may not carry or wear a badge in connection with an investigation since it may mislead others to believe that he or she is a peace officer or other government official. Chapter 493, Florida Statutes clearly states:
a. Florida law establishes that five-pointed star badges are reserved for wear by sheriffs and deputy sheriffs in this state. Any badge or insignia of such similarity to the official sheriff’s badge which is indistinguishable at a distance of twenty (20) feet is prohibited for use by individuals licensed under Chapter 493, F.S.
b. Licensed private investigators and private investigator interns should be especially aware that the use of any badge in the course of investigative activity creates a very strong suggestion of impersonation of a law enforcement officer, an act that would constitute misconduct in the course of regulated activities. ONLY the agency identification card and the Class “C” or “CC” license are needed for identification purposes while on the job.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing online records indicated (on November 19th) that Patricia Wolfman’s private investigator license expired on October 9, 2008; however caution should be exercised since the FL DOACS’ DOL is woefully backlogged when it comes to processing licensing paperwork. The “Eyes on You Investigative Services” agency license remains valid.
While the outcome in Shelley Wolfman’s case remains to be seen, she is innocent of all charges until proven guilty, consider the potential consequences carefully before using deception to gain access to private property and NEVER impersonate a law enforcement official. If she is found guilty of this crime, she could be facing 5 years in state prison.