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Arrest of fugitive at Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office part of new trend

MANATEE -- Christine Marie Dickinson walked into the Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office on Dec. 1 to get a Florida ID card.

She left in handcuffs.

Dickinson, 61, who turned out to be a federal fugitive wanted since 1993 on cocaine-related charges, joined a list of more than 100 who have been arrested in the tax collector’s office since February, according to Tax Collector Ken Burton.

The arrests began when Burton hired Andrew Jacobus, a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy, in January to primarily handle increased threats against employees from irate customers, but also to enforce the federal REAL ID Act and new driver license responsibilities mandated by the state, Burton said.

Burton and others never anticipated, however, the volume of criminal activity Jacobus would unearth.

Since being hired, he has made 65 misdemeanor arrests and 37 felony arrests. He has issued 28 citations and 10 warnings, and even recovered one stolen Mercedes, Burton said.

He has also Tasered a customer in the parking lot who ran from the lobby when told he was wanted for violation of parole, Jacobus said.

Working in his green sheriff’s office uniform, Jacobus is clearly visible as he watches the activities at 819 301 Blvd. W. He is called upon when one of Burton’s 67 associates is suspicious something doesn’t add up.

Such was the case when Dickinson entered the office and approached one of Burton’s associates with everything she needed to get the ID card, including her Social Security card, birth certificate and two proofs of her new residence, said Tony Conboy III, director of current collections for the tax collector’s office.

Dickinson set off suspicion when she indicated that it had been so long since she held a driver license that she couldn’t remember anything about it, Conboy said.

“The customer had everything she needed to obtain the ID according to procedure, but the employee became concerned because of the amount of time it had been since she had possessed an ID card or driver license in any state,” Burton said.

Jacobus was called in and decided to run Dickinson’s name in Florida law enforcement databases that only he has authority to access.

“When I put in Miss Dickinson’s name, up popped this U.S. Marshal’s warrant,” Jacobus said, describing Dickinson’s photo and information listed from the U.S. Marshal’s Northern District of Florida.

As Dickinson stood in the lobby, Jacobus called a U.S. Marshal, who confirmed his agency still wanted the woman.

“We cuffed Miss Dickinson in the lobby,” Jacobus said. “She kind of held her head down. She knew what was going on. She knew her past had caught up to her.”

Jacobus has reeled in an unregistered, out-of-state sexual predator attempting to obtain a Florida ID, customers driving on suspended/revoked licenses, customers with warrants from around the state and nation, as well as arrests for title fraud and the presentation of counterfeit or fraudulent identity, driver license and immigration documents, Burton said.

“You know what, I’ve been a deputy for five years and I am still amazed at the stuff we are seeing,” Jacobus said. “I had no idea of the amount of fraudulent activity coming out of these places.”

Burton praises not only Jacobus, but the 67 associates, who, he says, have found a way to be friendly and efficient while still being on the look out for law-breakers.

“It’s all paid off big time,” Burton said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.