Judge Says Fort Meade Officer Paul M. Schaill III Is Guilty of Solicitation of Prostitute Charge
BARTOW - Former Fort Meade Police Officer Paul M. Schaill III pleaded no contest to misdemeanor criminal charges Tuesday that he solicited a prostitute, but prosecutors dropped a related charge that he tipped the woman to police activities in exchange for sex.
As part of a plea agreement with the State Attorney’s Office, Schaill also surrendered his police standards, which prohibits him from working in law enforcement in Florida.
In the end, Schaill will pay a $750 fine and court costs, but won’t face jail time or probation.
He walked out of Polk County Court in Bartow on Tuesday with the case virtually behind him.
Schaill, 60, who’d worked for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and most recently the Fort Meade Police Department, declined comment on the case after the brief hearing.
He said he’s planning to move to Africa in February and wanted this behind him before he left.
Assistant State Attorney Brad Copley said his primary interest in the case was Schaill’s surrender of his police standards.
“That’s what qualifies him to be a police officer,” he said, “and it’s not unusual in a case like this, when there are no prior (convictions) to just impose a fine.”
Polk County Judge Steve Selph adjudicated Schaill guilty, which will remain on his criminal record. But since the solicitation charge is a misdemeanor, not a felony, he won’t be identified as a convicted felon.
Schaill was arrested Dec. 6 for solicitation and unlawful compensation for official behavior.
Residents in Fort Meade had contacted deputies with concerns that Schaill was frequently seen with local prostitutes, which triggered the investigation.
Authorities alleged that Schaill told the woman there was a warrant for her arrest and alerted her to police checkpoints so she could avoid those areas.
On Thursday, Schaill pleaded no contest to the solicitation charges, meaning he wasn’t challenging the allegations but wasn’t admitting guilt, either.
Sebring lawyer Bill Fletcher, representing Schaill, said his client denies the charges.
“He never had sex with her and didn’t even know there was a warrant out for her,” he said. “He’s not admitting that he did anything wrong, he just wants to get this behind him.”
Fort Meade City Manager Fred Hilliard said Schaill has applied for retirement benefits, and his retirement was effective Tuesday.
Schaill worked for the Sheriff’is Office from 1985 to 1996, when he was forced to resign. Sheriff’s Chief W.J. Martin said his resignation involved an improper relationship with a witness in a murder case.
Schaill went to work for the Fort Meade Police Department in 2001 and had been promoted to corporal.
Police Chief Mike Woods had named him an acting lieutenant in November after Lt. Rick Bream retired. The city was paying him $44,190 annually as a corporal.
Last month, the Fort Meade City Commission voted to contract with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services, and most of the department’s employees will transfer their employment to the Sheriff’s Office at the end of this month. Schaill had told Hilliard that he didn’t plan to make that transition, but he hadn’t applied for retirement benefits until now, Hilliard said.
The pending criminal case won’t affect Schaill’s retirement, Hilliard said
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