(As originally published with bells and whistles, Sun, November 20th 2022, 4:30 AM EST)
ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — A former deputy with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office got into big trouble when he didn’t follow the old idiom, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
He was convicted of choking a pool service repairman who fixed his pool for free.
According to the Internal Affairs investigative report, he allegedly “threatened, physically restrained and placed a knife against the back” of the guy.
The violence happened on the morning of Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
The report said the victim, his wife and the fellow employee “provided pool repair service” at a home in Royal Palm Beach.
“Prior to the job’s completion, the neighbor later identified as Deputy Sheriff (D/S) Trevor Darlington approached [the victim] and requested repair assistance with an inoperable swimming pool jet.”
It added, the two even knew each other because the victim had worked for Darlington before.
“[The victim] agreed to assist D/S Darlington and did so free of charge,” the report said. “Upon completion, D/S Darlington requested [the victim] inform him on what actions were taken to fix his pool. As the service was free of charge, [the victim] refused to provide his trade secret. D/S Darlington encroached upon [the victim], wrapped one of his arms around [the victim]’s neck which interfered with his breathing, produced and placed a large black folding knife with a brown or silver handle against the left side of [the victim]’s hip region, and again demanded to know how [the victim] fixed his pool. In fear for his life, [the victim] provided his trade secret and then was freed by D/S Darlington.”
That afternoon, the victim sent a text message to the man whose pool he was paid to fix and told them about “the physical altercation with D/S Darlington and how he placed the knife against his back for not providing information on how he fixed D/S Darlington’s pool.”
That evening, the victim reported the incident to PBSO. Deputies went to his home in Greenacres and ended up telling the PBSO Violent Crimes Division.
One of their detectives “physically examined [the victim] for injuries and discovered a one-inch linear mark on the lower left side of [the victim]’s back, which was believed to be caused by the knife D/S Darlington placed in his back.”
Three days later, on Saturday, “[The victim] positively identified D/S Darlington as the suspect who committed aggravated battery with a deadly weapon against him,” from a familiarization photograph.
The detective got an arrest warrant for Darlington and the search warrant for evidence from his home.
That Monday, authorities executed the search warrant, arrested Darlington, and found evidence including the knife. Darlington was booked into the Main Detention Center and released three-and-a-half hours later, in lieu of $5,000 bond.
Then, he went to Internal Affairs “and was placed on administrative leave for the duration of the administrative investigation.”
Fast forward almost two years, to March 7, 2022, and “D/S Darlington was found guilty by a jury verdict and adjudicated guilty on one count of assault, a second-degree misdemeanor, and one count of battery, a first-degree misdemeanor.”
Those were lesser charges. Darlington had been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
He was sentenced to 60 days probation for the assault, and one year probation for the battery. Plus, as conditions of his probation, he “was not allowed to have any contact with the victim and was not allowed to possess any weapons or firearms.”
Those probation sentences run concurrently. He’s still on probation and scheduled to remain on probation until March 6, 2023.
That was his legal trouble.
For work trouble, Darlington was accused of violating PBSO Rule & Regulation V: Standard of Conduct, and PBSO Rule & Regulation IX: Improper Conduct Offenses.
The Internal Affairs investigation looked at an Offense Report from that morning at the pool in which a responding deputy wrote, “Upon being released from D/S Darlington’s grasp, [the victim] told D/S Darlington his actions as a joke were in ‘bad taste.’ D/S Darlington responded by saying his actions were not in a joking manner.
In a Supplement to the Offense Report, the detective wrote Darlington “denied any altercation with [the victim] and denied carrying any weapon during their encounter. D/S Darlington acknowledged he accidentally bumped shoulders with [the victim] but denied physically restraining him in any manner. D/S Darlington acknowledged his residence was equipped with security surveillance cameras and denied deleting any footage.”
But investigators never found video of the event.
The detective also wrote the man whose pool needed to be repaired “described D/S Darlington as ‘stern’ and ‘agitated,’ and noted D/S Darlington appeared ‘animated’ and ‘unfriendly’ when he conversed with [the victim]. During their engagement [this witness] observed D/S Darlington physically restrain [the victim] by wrapping one of his arms around [the victim]’s upper shoulder area while pulling [the victim] close to his body. Later in the day, [this witness] discussed his observations with D/S Darlington who advised he was in possession of a black knife during the incident and the knife was used for cutting coconuts.”
The paperwork also said a second detective who helped search Darlington’s home found two knives on a table near the front door.
The investigator from Internal Affairs finally interviewed Darlington on June 15 and the report said he started with PBSO in 1995, “and his current position assignment is with the PBSO Training Division as an instructor.”
The report said Darlington acknowledged the Violent Crimes Division executed a search warrant of his home and arrested him “for the criminal violation of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon against the victim, [name]. He confirmed he was transported and booked into the PBSO MDC and he paid a $5,000 bond for his release from custody.
“D/S Darlington confirmed on March 07, 2022, a jury verdict found him guilty of two lesser criminal charges, one count assault and one count battery. … D/S Darlington confirmed his probation began on March 22, 2022, and ends on March 06, 2023.
“According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Duties and Responsibilities of the Corrections Deputy Sheriff, Department of Corrections policy, a corrections D/S must possess the ability to operate a firearm. D/S Darlington agreed he is unable to currently possess a firearm; therefore, he is unable to perform the functions of his job position.”
The Internal Affairs investigation ended with two Recommended findings:
- A preponderance of evidence does exist to support the allegation Deputy Sheriff Trevor Darlington violated Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Rule & Regulation IX (54): Violation of Laws, Policies or Rules & Regulations Relating to the Office of the Sheriff, to wit; aggravated battery with a deadly weapon as a criminal investigation revealed.
- A preponderance of evidence does exist to support the allegation Deputy Sheriff Trevor Darlington violated Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Rule & Regulation V (1): Standard of Conduct.
The investigator signed the report on June 29 and the Internal Affairs commanding officer approved it on July 5, 2022.
The final disciplinary action was signed off on Sept. 11. D/S Darlington was terminated.
But that wasn’t the end of his legal trouble.
CBS12 News found Darlington has a couple of side jobs and one led to a second arrest less than two months ago, on Oct. 5.
The Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations, shows Darlington owns a Limited Liability Company that uses his middle name and home address.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation alleges “that Trevor Darlington, doing business as [his company], is contracting regulated work without a license.”
The department’s investigative report said he entered a contract with a homeowner who’s a deputy and “used to work with Darlington at Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.”
It said the project “included a carport, garage, and game room at [address in] Palm Beach Gardens. The total cost of the project was $185,000. There is no license or qualifier for Darlington or his business, [name]. There appears to be financial harm caused to [victim] by Darlington.”
Then, it claims the homeowner told investigators in early May:
- “[The homeowner] stated that he used to work with Darlington at Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO). [The homeowner] is a deputy and Darlington was a deputy.
- “When asked if he knew Darlington was not licensed, [the homeowner] stated that he did not know he was not licensed. [The homeowner] further stated that Darlington always presented himself as a contractor and spoke of contractor work when at work at the PBSO.
- “When asked if Darlington ever told him he was licensed, [the homeowner] stated that he was told he was licensed and registered.
- “[The homeowner] stated that his wife is also employed at the PBSO and one day at work made mention of wanting to have construction work done. Darlington approached her and told her he could do the job and save the [couple] money.
- “[The homeowner] stated when he met Darlington at the Palm Beach County Building and Zoning office located on Jog Road, Darlington suggested that he apply for the permits as an owner/builder to save money.
- “[The homeowner] stated that all the subcontractors he spoke with also believed Darlington was licensed.
- “[The homeowner] stated that he inquired about low voltage work (install security cameras) with a subcontractor, electrician, and was told he needed to speak to Darlington. [The homeowner] spoke to Darlington and was quoted a price he did not think was reasonable and told Darlington no. After this conversation, the subcontractor, electrician, confronted [the homeowner] about the job and when he explained the issue with the price he gave to Darlington, the electrician was surprised to hear and price and said he did not give Darlington that price. [The homeowner] further stated that this is when he realized Darlington was jacking up the price and looking to keep the difference.
- “When asked if inspections were held, [the homeowner] stated that Darlington would schedule inspections and never be on property when the inspector came to the job. [The homeowner] further stated that Darlington would schedule the subcontractors’ inspections for days they were not on property either.
- “When asked if the job was completed, [the homeowner] stated that it was not completed.
- “When asked if there was money left over from the original agreed upon price, [the homeowner] stated that Darlington did not take the last draw of $7,000. [The homeowner] alleges Darlington told him to use the remaining money to finish the job on his own. Additionally, [the homeowner] stated that at the same time, Darlington handed over blueprints, Release of Liens from subcontractors, and then never returned to the job.
- “[The homeowner] stated that Darlington had no funds from the $111,000 initial deposit when the job started six months later. [The homeowner] alleged that during this time frame, Darlington was using the cash to work on building on to his own home and to pay bills because he was falling short at the time.
- “[The homeowner] stated that Darlington is currently doing construction work for another PBSO deputy; however, he would not disclose the location and name of the deputy.”
The end of the investigative report contained an “Investigator’s Note” which read, “Darlington refused to provide any information or answer questions when the undersigned investigator spoke with him on the telephone on or about 04/29/2022. Darlington stated he needed to speak to his attorney. Darlington did state during the telephone conversation that he was only working in the scope of a handyman for the complaint.”
CBS12 News also confirmed with the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation that Darlington is a licensed real estate sales associate.