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Ex-Wife Found Guilty of Fraud After Stealing Retirement Money

CITRUS - An Inverness woman was found guilty of Grand Theft in a Citrus County Courtroom Thursday after forging documents in her divorce to Illegally obtain retirement funds.

Back in July of 2021, the victim reported to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) that their ex-wife, 58-year-old Robin Joanna Bell, had committed fraud by filing forged documents to obtain retirement benefits against a court order. In 2015, when the victim and Bell were finalizing their divorce, Bell requested half of the victim's retirement since the victim was currently retired. At the time, Bell was not retired, however, the victim was and was currently receiving benefits.

The victim agreed to the request, only on the premise that they would then also receive half of Bell's retirement when she officially retires. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) was filed and the judge finalized the terms, with each legally entitled to half the retirement of the other party. With this new court order, Bell began to receive half of the retirement benefits of the victim.

By December 2020, the victim received notice that Bell had retired. As a result, the victim contacted the Florida Retirement System (FRS) to begin receiving half of the benefits. To their surprise, they were informed that FRS had received a document with the victim's signature on it, signing over all rights to the account to Bell. Additionally, there was another document provided by Bell to FRS for the same purpose, that was not notarized but did have a witness signature. The victim then contacted law enforcement to file a report.

CCSO Detective Thomas Dowling who was assigned the case, spoke with the victim and reviewed all the provided documents supporting the victim's claim. Det. Dowling was then able to view the forged document and met up with the notary on the notary stamp of the fraudulent document. The notary indicated they had never notarized the document for Bell and believed it to be a fake document.

Det. Dowling then attempted to make contact with Bell, who advised the official would need to speak with her attorney. After not hearing from Bell or her attorney, and being unable to locate the witness of the forged document, Det. Dowling contacted Agent Bruce Arnold of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for assistance. After a little over a month, Agent Arnold was able to locate the witness, who agreed to meet up for an interview.

During the interview, the witness indicated they had never seen nor signed the document provided to FRS by Bell. Probable cause was established, and a warrant was issued for Bell's arrest.

On January 1, 2023, CCSO deputies arrested Bell and charged her with Grand Theft (over 100,000), two counts of Fraudulent Use of Personal Identification Information, Witness Tampering, and Forgery of a Public Record.

While out on bond, Bell attempted to have the victim drop the charges and was subsequently charged with tampering.

Sentencing will take place at a later date.

"𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙛𝙩, 𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙘𝙪𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙡𝙮 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙞𝙩'𝙨 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙬𝙝𝙤 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙤𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙘𝙡𝙤𝙨𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙮𝙤𝙪, 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙗𝙚 𝙙𝙚𝙫𝙖𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜. 𝙇𝙚𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙨𝙚𝙧𝙫𝙚 𝙖𝙨 𝙖 𝙧𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜, 𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙙𝙚𝙘𝙚𝙞𝙫𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙫𝙞𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙨, 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙗𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙛𝙞𝙩, 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙜𝙤 𝙪𝙣𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙘𝙠𝙚𝙙 𝙞𝙣 𝘾𝙞𝙩𝙧𝙪𝙨 𝘾𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙮," said Bill Gladson, Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney. "𝙋𝙧𝙤𝙩𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙢𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝙫𝙪𝙡𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙥𝙤𝙥𝙪𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙞𝙨 𝙖 𝙩𝙤𝙥 𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙤𝙛𝙛𝙞𝙘𝙚."

 

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