Columbia County deputy arrested after stealing nearly $3,800 in cash while on duty

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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Lake City, Fla. (WCJB) - The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office arrested one of their own deputies over the weekend. This came after they got a complaint about a deputy stealing cash out of a vehicle while responding to a call.

Sheriff Mark Hunter said Deputy Ruslan Lipelis was actively patrolling an area when he stole about $3,800 from a car, landing him in handcuffs.

Hunter said Lipelis has worked for the sheriff’s department for nearly four years.

“I do want the citizens to know that this is a gut punch for the entire agency and I know that a lot of our employees are upset. I’ve said this 100 times whenever we’re bringing people into this agency, and into what we call our family, it doesn’t matter who gets the black eye, we all wear it, and this is a pretty significant black eye,” said Sheriff Hunter.

He said it’s rare something like this happens in his agency.

“The actions of one individual is not going to define this Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, I can tell you that. Because the men and women that work here work hard every day all day.”

The sheriff’s office turned the investigation over to FDLE to ensure it remains impartial.

“Agents recovered a majority of the reported stolen money at the deputy’s residence, obtained an arrest warrant for the deputy for grand theft, and arrested the deputy all within the same day,” said Keith Wilmer, Assistant special agent in charge of Tallahassee region of FDLE.

As of now, law enforcement officials do not know what led Lipelis to commit this crime.

The sheriff said because of the type of crime, the deputy is on unpaid administrative leave.

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