One of the central questions in the criminal case against Riviera Beach Detective Lee Ann Schneider is whether her dozens of alleged forgeries on official documents jeopardized any of the cases she was handling. Was she acting maliciously, or just trying to save time?
Schneider has been charged with 152 counts of forgery and official misconduct for signing her supervisor's name to probable cause affidavits and property receipts for evidence. Prosecutors say she did this to justify the claims her supervisor, Sergeant Pat Galligan, put in for overtime.
When she was first arrested in December 2009, Palm Beach State Attorney Michael McAuliffe said the forgeries "put many cases in the local criminal justice system at risk."
Schneider investigated rape and crimes against children, sensitive cases that would be "under some scrutiny and some jeopardy" because of her alleged misconduct, Prosecutor Paul Zacks told the Palm Beach Post.But more than a year later, it's unclear how -- or if -- any of Schneider's cases have been impacted.
Her attorney, Tom Gano, points out that no one has alleged the information she wrote in the probable cause affidavits was false. "That's not even part of the accusation," he says.
In an interview with the FBI, Riviera Lieutenant Larry Payne called Schneider a "great employee" who "is rough around the edges but a good detective."
Riviera Assistant Chief David Harris told investigators that he confronted Galligan when he learned of the alleged forgeries. Galligan said Schneider would read the probable cause affidavits to him over the phone before signing his name to them.
If prosecutors know of cases that have been delayed or appealed because of the alleged forgeries, they haven't told Gano. "I haven't been advised of any cases that have been jeopardized," he says.
State Attorney's Office spokesperson Sarah Alsofrom declined to clear up the mystery, saying prosecutors cannot comment on active cases.
Schneider has pleaded not guilty and is currently working on restricted duty in Riviera.
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