Sentence Reduced for Officer Arrested for Exploitation of the Elderly

Frank Bybee, a deputy with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office was arrested in 2017 for exploitation of the elderly, judge reduced his sentence
Frank Bybee

Deputy Groomed Woman to be Scammed

(FL) – This sickening case began on October 16, 2016. On that day a 79-year old women,  Marcia Sohl, stated she was going to commit suicide. Deputy Frank Bybee, with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, was one of the officers who responded. Deputy Bybee was instrumental in getting Ms. Sohl involuntarily committed using the Baker Act. It appears he immediately decided he was going to exploit her and started grooming her to be scammed.

Bybee asked if he could stay and pray with her. Once he had this lonely woman believing he cared about her, he got her to exchange contact information with him. Deputy Bybee began stopping by her house, performing small chores for her which helped to build her trust in him.

Exploitation of the Elderly Begins

Ms. Sohl had to go into the hospital several times during the time she was acquainted with Bybee. One of the times she was in the hospital she asked Bybee to take care of her dog for her. She gave him a $1,000 check to cover any medical issues the dog may have. What she didn’t know was that Bybee had “hacked both her AOL and PayPal accounts.” He also “withdrew money from the victim’s accounts using ATM cards, forged checks for $65,000 and sent them to himself — some written out to his three sons.”

Bybee even deposited the check for medical care for the dog then sold the dog on Craigslist.

Internal Affairs Investigation Started

Once Ms. Sohl discovered what was happening she tried to report him. She had to call the Sheriff’s Office two times to try to get help. After finally speaking to her, the Sheriff’s Office opened an internal affairs investigation. According to the,

Investigators found that Bybee repeatedly accessed the woman’s AOL account and emails, accessed her financial information, accessed her PayPal account, and withdrew money using her debit card.

On Dec. 29, after Bybee was told to cease his contact with the woman, she was once again Baker Acted. While evidence exists that Bybee sent a message from the woman’s email account that set in motion law enforcement’s response to her home, deputies and medical staff at the hospital made the decision to Baker Act the woman based on their observations.

Did you catch that? Deputy Bybee used Ms. Sohl’s email account to set her up to be committed again, to try to discredit her accusations.

What About the Attempted Murder?

Deputy Bybee knew he was in serious trouble and took action to end that trouble. Those actions included going to her house. Per the,

According to the affidavit, Bybee grabbed the woman’s face, forced an unknown pill in her mouth and tried to force her prescription sleeping pills down her throat.

The woman passed out and woke up to find her garage door open and her car engine running.

“Our investigation revealed that Bybee attempted to kill the victim and make it appear to be a suicide,” Knight said.

Knight, in the above statement, is Sheriff Thomas Knight. Sheriff Knight says they determined Bybee tried to kill Ms. Sohl, yet Bybee was not charged with attempted murder. Instead he was charged with kidnapping, along with multiple other charges. What happened to the charge of attempted murder?

Convicted Officer Blames His Criminal Attorneys

Bybee’s attorneys tried to get a light sentence claiming Bybee was “treated like an animal,” in jail while awaiting trial. The judge sentenced Bybee on the charges of kidnapping, exploitation of the elderly, computer fraud, and eight counts of fraudulent use of personal information. All time was to run concurrent. The first three charges had sentences of 15 years in jail and 10 years probation upon release.

Frank Bybee immediately filed an appeal. A judge ruled in his favor, on the kidnapping charge, claiming that he received “ineffective assistance from his criminal attorneys.”  The charge of kidnapping was dropped and it doesn’t seem the District Attorney’s Office chose to pursue it. Probably because he was already doing the same amount of time on two of the other charges.

Deputy Pleads Poor Health to Get Sentence Reduced

Bybee targeted Ms. Sohl when he saw that she had mental health issues, and was without family. He took advantage of a lonely woman, with poor mental health, to enrich himself. When she reported him, he not only got her committed again, but tried to kill her. The reason her name was released in the most recent article is because Ms. Sohl died in 2019. There is no one left to fight for justice for Ms. Sohl.

The man who took advantage of her poor mental health is now trying to get out of jail claiming his health is failing. And he was somewhat successful. On January 8 of this year, there was a resentencing hearing for Frank Bybee. Mr. Bybee begged forgiveness from everyone he hurt, but Ms. Sohl is no longer here to hear it. According to the,

Despite arguments that his health was declining because of poor medical care in prison, Judge Mason resentenced Bybee to 10 years in prison for exploitation of the elderly and 10 years probation for three counts of computer crimes.

After everything Bybee did to a vulnerable old woman, the judge still felt sorry for him and knocked five years off his sentence.

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