An incident that allegedly occurred back in December involving a convicted felon taking a Liberty County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) vehicle for a weekend of partying is raising several questions.
Travis Allen, 29, of Bristol, was sentenced to state prison earlier this month for violating his probation on a 2007 Liberty County grand theft case. The sentencing brought to light recent charges in Franklin County where he was accused of impersonating a law enforcement officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Allen was allegedly partying in Franklin County the weekend of Dec. 3 in a white 2007 Chevy Tahoe belonging to the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. The vehicle had been issued to Investigator Todd Wheetley who told Franklin County authorities he left the vehicle at Allen’s house between the dates of Dec. 2 through Dec. 5 to have Allen repair emergency lights in the grill.
According to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, a tip came in during mid-December that Allen was coming to their county in a white Tahoe equipped with lights and sirens and selling drugs from the vehicle. While drug investigators were exploring that tip, Dep. Kit Mashburn was contacted by a friend who worked at Club 98 in Eastpoint and reported Allen was entering the bar stating he was an undercover deputy sheriff and mentioned Dep. Mashburn dropping him off at the bar once.
When Dep. Mashburn heard Allen was using his name to convince people he was a deputy sheriff. he located Allen and confronted him with a witness present. Allen denied the allegations.
Sgt. R. Shelley and Lt. B. Segree began investigating the case.
A correctional officer told Franklin County authorities she met Allen the weekend of Dec. 3 at Harry’s Bar in Carrabelle. After leaving the bar, she and several others, along with Allen, went to a bonfire at a spot in the forest known as the “Four Way.” The officer said Allen approached her, introduced himself and said he was an undercover cop with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. The woman said Allen was driving a white 2007 Chevy Tahoe with lights and radios, noting a man at the party pushed some of the switches in the vehicle, causing the lights to come on, scaring off some of the party-goers. The woman further stated Allen activated the emergency lights and siren at the party. She noted he had an ice chest with beer in the rear of the Tahoe that he shared at the party.
The correctional officer said Allen contacted her via Facebook after the party and they continued talking, eventually planning a date. When they met three weeks later, she expected to see him driving the Tahoe, but he told her he had gotten in trouble for pulling people over on St. George Island. Allen offered that he had been involved with drug busts in other counties as an undercover cop. She said he went so far with his ploy as to enter the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, telling her he was retrieving a gas card, and indicated on one occasion he was with the LCSO sheriff and major.
The woman provided a text message from her phone allegedly sent to her by Allen. The message included a photo of what appeared to be several case files on a desk with county names including Gulf, Calhoun, Liberty and Gadsden. The text read, “Four counties down. One to go LOL.”
Other witnesses reported Allen being at Club 98 in Eastpoint Dec. 16 with a badge and gun attached to a holster. Allen indicated to a bartender he was with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office narcotics unit and had her keep the items behind the bar. At the end of the night, she said he handed her a sweater to wrap the gun and badge in, then joined the bar employees for breakfast.
Another witness at a liquor store in Franklin County said Allen showed him his 9mm gun on Dec. 14 and indicated he was a Liberty County law enforcement officer.
Following the investigation, Franklin County authorities charged Allen with impersonating a law enforcement officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Back in Liberty County, no charges have been filed against Allen for stealing the Tahoe the weekend of Dec. 3 when he was supposed to be doing electrical work on Inv. Wheetley’s vehicle.
A search of Allen’s criminal history begs the question: Why was the LCSO doing business with a felon?
Over the past nine years, Allen has been convicted of cocaine possession, five separate forgery charges, fraudulent use of a credit card and two grand theft cases. He spent time in prison in 2006, again from 2009 to 2010, then continued violating his probation on grand theft charges in Liberty County during 2011. He posted a cash bond to get out of jail in September 2011 and was in court Nov. 7 entering a not guilty plea. Two weeks later, he was making repairs on Sgt. Jamie Shiver’s patrol car. In fact, invoices indicate the LCSO paid Allen over $900 for electrical work during 2011 on four LCSO vehicles, not counting the work he reportedly performed on Inv. Wheetley’s vehicle in December for which no invoice has been provided.
Allen failed to show up for court Dec. 5 to face the previous violation of probation charge he was jailed for in September. He was a no-show again in January and February, resulting in a warrant being issued for his arrest. He was taken into custody Feb. 9.
Inv. Wheetley prepared a written statement attesting to the fact he spoke with Allen Dec. 27 and he denied driving the Tahoe.
When Allen was arrested in February, Inv. Wheetley questioned him again and said he continued to deny using the vehicle.
Inv. Wheetley’s statement is signed March 8, three days after he reportedly told Assistant State Attorney Richard Combs that Allen denied using the Tahoe.
No charges have been filed to date for grand theft auto.
Allen was sentenced to two years in state prison for violating his probation in the 2007 case, as well as the Franklin County charges.