Former deputy, Bybee sentenced to 15 years

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A former Sarasota County deputy was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a 79-year-old woman and kidnapping her.

The judge had harsh words for Frank Bybee, as he read the sentence in court.

"You will forever be known as a bad cop," said Judge Donald Mason, who was brought in from Charlotte County to preside over the trial. "Your name will be infamous in Sarasota County and probably points beyond."

Bybee was accused of befriending Marcia Sohl in 2016 when he was responding to a call at her house. Sohl, now 80, said he then methodically took over her life.

In the end, investigators said Bybee stole $65,000 from Sohl through forged checks and ATM withdrawals. The kidnapping charge stemmed from an allegation that Bybee forged suicide notes by sending them from Sohl's email account to neighbors and her doctor. She was involuntarily committed under the Baker Act.

Sohl said the night she got home, Bybee tried to kill her by forcing pills down her throat, then leaving a car running in the garage with a door open to make it look like a suicide. He was found not guilty of attempted murder.

Sheriff Tom Knight spoke about his former deputy after the hearing.

"We said back then we knew he was a criminal and he got what he deserved today. He's out of the community. He embarrassed law enforcement. He embarrassed the sheriff's office. And he's wrecked his life. He's wrecked the life of his family," Knight said. "Wearing a uniform and having a badge is cherished in that if you take it lightly and can exploit it, you deserve to be Fankie Bybee and taken to state prison."

His attorney, Ron Kurpiers, plans will appeal the verdict.

"Fifteen years is better than life," Kurpiers said. "Not saying that 15 years is what this man wants to do, but he's gone through hell and he will have a very difficult time in custody just because of who he is and what he's done."

Bybee could have faced life in prison. After serving 15 years, he'll be on probation for 10 years.