Clearwater police officer arrested after disability fraud investigation

A Clearwater police officer faces criminal charges after an investigation showed he lied about the extent of injuries suffered while on-duty in order to claim disability.

According to the police department, Officer Scott Penna injured his right arm during an encounter with an uncooperative suspect in January 2023.

Penna had two surgeries on the arm, according to the department, and was on light duty before applying for a disability pension earlier this year, claiming to have limited use of the injured arm.

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Police say city officials questioned the extent of Penna's injuries and began an investigation, which showed him using both his hands for various activities, including driving his personal car and lifting weights in the gym.

"(Disability is) reserved for people who really can't do the job anymore. The officers and taxpayers pay into the system to ensure our first responders are protected and shouldn't have to worry about someone trying to dupe the system," Police Chief Eric Gandy said in a news release Thursday.

Penna faces charges of grand theft, scheme to defraud and pension fraud. He is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

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