FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A former police officer was sentenced to 90 days in jail for defrauding his department by claiming he had been called to active duty in Iraq. He actually had taken a civilian job in Tampa and was getting two paychecks.
Delray Beach Police officer Vincent Balestrieri, 37, was sentenced Friday by Broward County Circuit Judge William Berger for defrauding the department out of $8,700.
In addition to lying about being called to Navy duty, Balestrieri also received bereavement pay because he had claimed that his mother had died. He acknowledged Friday that his mother was still alive.
Balestrieri blamed his actions on pressure from a Delray Beach police captain to buy a home he couldn't afford from the captain's wife. He also said his wife had medical bills he could not pay.
Instead of going to Iraq, Balestrieri was actually working for defense contractor Lockheed Martin in Tampa. While there, Balestrieri and his wife bought a $220,000 home.
Lockheed Martin fired Balestrieri last September.
Balestrieri joined the Navy Reserve in 1998, and previously served for 13 years with the New York Police Department.