MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. - Manatee County Sheriff's Deputy Leon Pollock is under investigation and on unpaid leave, after authorities say his wife broke into an unoccupied home in Riverview and moved their family in for months without the owners permission.
The deputy's wife, Jeanella Pollock, was arrested last week. And now investigators are looking to determine whether the deputy himself, could face charges as well.
At the center of this story is a centuries-old law known as adverse possession. It was originally written as a way to gain the rights to property that was truly abandoned. Recently though squatters have been known to use this law to try and lay claim to foreclosed homes. Investigators say this deputy's wife tried to do the same thing last February.
Jeanella didn't not answer her door for comment when ABC 7 visited her home Wednesday. She was arrested last week at a home in Ruskin, charged with grand theft and second degree burglary.
Investigators say last February, Jeanella took it upon herself to break into an unoccupied Riverview home, change all the locks, and move her entire family in.
She then filed a notarized adverse possession form with the Hillsborough County property appraiser, apparently thinking that she could lay legal claim to the house.
"They've been there for like six or some odd months all this time and it was pretty well kept quiet until recently," said neighbor Ron Shelton. He says Jeanella and her family kept to themselves. The problem is that while the home was vacant, its rightful owner was living in Alabama.
Now questions are swirling because Jeanella is married to Detective Leon Pollock, a fifteen year veteran of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
He's now facing an internal investigation there, even though the sheriff's office won't officially confirm whether that is tied to the arrest of his wife. Hillsborough County authorities however confirm that Leon Pollock was living in the house.
Detectives say the rightful homeowner was made of aware of the adverse possession filing by county appraisers, and alerted cops that no one had her permission to be in the home.
Jeanella Pollock is now free after posting a more than $22,000 bond, as investigators across two counties work to close the door on this case.