Charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer will be dropped against Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins Jr. if he completes a pre-trial diversion program.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement had charged Hawkins, 53, of St. Cloud, with the charge, which spanned back to an incident in November.
Hawkins has agreed to a pre-trial diversion program to have the charge dropped, according to
Fred Hawkins for State House campaign spokesperson Christina Johnson.
The pre-trial program will take one year and requires Hawkins to take an impulse control class, complete community service hours, pay fines and repay the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for the cost of its investigation, according to the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office said.
Hawkins, a Republican, faces Democrat Barbara Cady of Lake Wales for the open seat in District 42, which includes eastern Polk County and part of Osceola County.
In a statement, Johnson said, “Commissioner Hawkins and the State Attorney’s office came to an agreement that the charge stemming from nearly a year ago from a contentious HOA meeting in which Hawkins tried to bring law and order to a volatile situation would be dismissed. In an effort to bring this matter to a speedy and certain dismissal, Mr. Hawkins elected this course of action to bring closure on this matter.”
According to an FDLE press release, on Nov. 7, 2019, Hawkins attempted to gain access to an election of the Turnberry Reserve Homeowner’s Association (HOA), of which he was not a member. The HOA had rented the library at the East Lake Elementary School.
As he approached a security guard at the door, he displayed an Osceola County Sheriff’s Office badge, but the guard told him to step back.
Hawkins said he was with the Sheriff’s Office, according to the FDLE report, and entered the room.
Hawkins is a special deputy with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, an honorary title, but he did not have arrest powers, nor has he ever been certified as a law enforcement officer in the state of Florida, the FDLE stated. No one from the Sheriff’s Office requested him to take any action as a special deputy at the HOA election.
Hawkins Jr. was then suspended from office by Gov. Ron DeSantis in July due to the charge. It wasn’t immediately known if he would be reinstated.
In a statement, Fred Hawkins said, “I am glad to get this behind me and have said throughout this process that I was innocent of this allegation. The fairness of the criminal justice system and my faith in these proceedings serve as a reminder that a person is innocent until proven guilty. I look forward to continuing my campaign for House District 42 based on my record of principled and community-based leadership.”