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A former Lee County Sheriff deputy was given two years probation and banned from being a law enforcement now or in the future, after stealing money from a group of men he stopped last fall.

The deputy was charged with two counts of grand theft and one count of official police misconduct last October when he pulled over a car of men and stole their money. The men reported it, and the deputy was arrested later that day.

On October 9, he faced additional charges when another group came forward claiming he had also stolen their money.

“This was a day he dishonored law enforcement in general and the public in general,” Hale’s attorney, Wilbur Smith, told Circuit Judge Mark Steinbeck on Thursday. “He was under a lot of stress and pressure and what he did he is very ashamed of.”

Smith asked Steinbeck to withhold adjudication, which means his criminal record won’t reflect he is a convicted felon. Prosecutors didn’t voice an opinion on the matter, leaving it up to the judge. Steinbeck agreed, but according to a plea agreement, Hale will be on probation for two years and will be fined $500, which will go to Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers. He will have to pay court costs as well.

Felony Division Chief’s biggest concern was making sure the ex-deputy won’t ever be a law enforcement officer again. She called the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to confirm his certification would be cancelled and that the charges would permanently be on any background check.

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