By Lynn Gordon - email
WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Former police officer Carl Heflin was arrested for ripping off renters. Now, we've learned he's alleged accomplice is his 17-year-old daughter.
Heflin walked into court Wednesday facing a judge on numerous counts of burglary, grand theft and organized scheme to defraud.
"You are here on three counts of burglary on a dwelling and three counts of grand theft," stated the judge.
The former police officer is accused of renting out homes he didn't own and burglarizing them to get in. It's the same thing he was arrested for in 2009.
"All the houses have locks on it. He has to actually break the windows, the locks to get in, and then he puts his own locks on," said an investigator. "He finds a person who's down on their luck to rent for a cheap price."
Sheriff's investigators say Heflin was abusing the concept known as 'adverse possession' which allows people to take over abandoned properties if they pay taxes and occupy the home for seven years.
But, officials say, adverse possession is being misused by squatters and trespassers, like Heflin, to claim ownership of vacant or foreclosed homes.
Heflin insisted he's doing nothing wrong. "I think, I will be exonerated because I'm following the statutes on the books. If the statutes were not there, I would not attempt to follow."
Cops say Heflin wasn't alone in the rental scheme. The 52-year-old's 17-year-old daughter is also being charged with burglary and grand theft after, investigators say, she broke the window of at least one home to gain access.
Police say she also bragged about how her father would pay her $25 for each window she broke.
In June, Heflin was released after spending 13 months in jail. Prosecutors dropped the felony charges and Heflin pled guilty to trespassing.
This time, however, investigators are certain the charges will stick. "I'm pretty confident we're gonna have a better conclusion, hopefully, for victims of Palm Beach County," an investigator said.
Heflin remains at the Palm Beach County Jail on $100,000 bond.