Chief accused of grand theft, forgery in sale
Posted May 5, 2006

Melbourne Beach -- The chief of the Melbourne Beach Police Department was arrested Thursday and charged with grand theft and uttering a forgery in the sale of property he owned with his ex-wife.

David R. Syrkus, 50, avoided handcuffs and a trip to the Brevard County Jail after his attorney got a circuit judge to accept the arrest warrant in court and release Syrkus under his own recognizance. The unusual move rattled FDLE investigators who expected Syrkus to surrender and be booked at the jail, as he had agreed to do earlier.

Syrkus was charged six months after Gov. Jeb Bush's office received complaints from the mayor of Melbourne Village, where Syrkus worked at the time. Bush directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate.

Syrkus is accused of forging his ex-wife's signature on property deeds that allowed him to sell a house the two owned in Palm Beach County. His ex-wife was entitled to a percentage of the $65,845 Syrkus netted in the 2000 sale, according to an FDLE investigative summary. Syrkus' ex-wife says she never signed any of the papers.

In 2000 and 2001, the Florida Commission on Ethics fined Syrkus for not filing financial-disclosure forms, which would have required him to report the house-sale proceeds. Syrkus told investigators he had no reason to issue a forgery and did not know about the items until FDLE contacted him.

Melbourne Beach officials had yet to take action against Syrkus on Thursday evening but will likely place him on unpaid leave until the criminal case is closed, Mayor William G. Stacey said.

The felonies carry prison sentences of five to 15 years and could lead to Syrkus losing his state police-officer certification.

Pedro Ruz Gutierrez, Willoughby Mariano, Ken Ma, Henry Pierson Curtis, Victor Manuel Ramos, Stephen Hudak and Sarah Lundy of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.