WINTER HAVEN — People have ended up in the Polk County Jail after being arrested and charged with stealing a wide variety of items, from cars and property in people’s homes, to credit cards and even personal identities.
A Winter Haven woman was arrested today, and charged with stealing something else entirely: a chihuahua belonging to a retired nun.
The twist is that the woman taken into custody is a former animal control officer who had worked for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office until her arrest.
Lori Michelle Holland, 41, of Winter Haven, was arrested and charged with one count of robbery and one count of burglary. The arrest brought a swift end to her current career in Polk County law enforcement, noted Carrie Eleazer, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Holland had been hired by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in 2008 as a customer service representative, “and has been transferred to different units within the agency,” Eleazer noted in her report on this case.
“Her most recent transfer was to Animal Control as an animal control officer in February 2012,” Eleazer noted. “She resigned from that position upon her arrest late last evening. However, she would have been immediately suspended pending termination had she not resigned.”
Polk detectives say Holland had gone to the home of an 82-year-old woman, a retired nun named Rosa DiCesare, and forcibly took a chihuahua dog named Mojo away from the woman.
“Holland previously owned Mojo, but gave him to DiCesare a few weeks ago because she, Holland, could no longer care for him,” Eleazer said.
According to the arrest affidavit, “Holland allegedly had too many dogs at (her) home and could no longer adequately care for Mojo.”
Beverly J. Roach, who knew Holland through her son, told the animal control officer that she had a friend looking for a dog, that person being DiCesare.
Holland agreed to give DiCesare the dog, Roach told Polk deputies. Holland gave Mojo to Roach, along with a collar, knitted sweater and paperwork with information about adopting the dog, vaccinations, and the animal’s medical history. It was an emotional transfer, deputies noted.
“Holland became upset and began crying as she ‘said goodbye’ to the dog before departing Roach’s residence,” the arrest affidavit notes.
On Dec. 29, three days after DiCesare claimd ownership of Mojo, Holland went to the woman’s home, “telling her that she wanted to drop off more items for Mojo,” Eleazer said. “Instead, Holland forcibly took the dog from DiCesare.”
The arrest report claims Holland went to the woman’s home, sat down in a chair in her living room, and told DiCesare, “I’m here to take Mojo with me.”
DiCesare responded with a firm no, stating that the dog was hers now and she loved Mojo and didn’t want to give it up.
“DiCesare told Lori she has been caring for the dog for several days and they were growing fond of one another,” the arrest report states.
The two women argued for 30 minutes, the report states, during which time DiCesare admits calling Holland a cheat, liar and crook.
That did not stop Holland from taking the dog with her, though, the arrest report says.
“Lori continued to make excuses and reasons regarding why she was a better suitor for the dog, and even offered to bring R. DiCesare another dog at some other time,” the report states.
Holland was arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail. She was released today after posting bond at $1,000 per charge.
After Holland’s arrest, the dog was returned to DiCesare.
Contact us at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.