Only 9 Investigates sat one on one with former Osceola County Commissioner and newly elected State Rep. Fred Hawkins, in his first interview after being arrested in the county he served for more than a decade.
Channel 9 investigative reporter Karla Ray has covered every development in this saga for more than a year. It all stemmed from a homeowners association fight at Turnberry Reserve in Kissimmee.
Hawkins won the election to represent District 42, which covers parts of Osceola and Polk County, but barely. Polk County voters pushed Hawkins over the threshold, but he lost the vote in Osceola County. But he said he’s ready to move on and focus on his future in Tallahassee.
“I wish I handled things different, and I apologize for what I put my family and supporters through due to that, but I’ll always be passionate in helping my citizens,” Hawkins said about his use of a special deputy badge, which led to his arrest on charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Hawkins' path to Tallahassee went through Turnberry Reserve, and the Osceola County Jail, after he pulled out that special deputy badge at a Turnberry Reserve HOA election meeting a year ago.
Though his arrest for impersonating an officer would come months later, then-Turnberry Reserve security guard Ailyn DePena was arrested that night for battery against him. Her charges were later dropped.
“She put a clipboard against me, that’s all,” Hawkins said when Ray asked if DePena battered him. “I’ll tell you, it happened so quick and he told me to stay inside, the crowd was really getting rowdy, it was a bad situation all around, and I think all of us wish we could’ve done things differently.”
DePena ultimately became the victim in the FDLE case against Hawkins, leading to his July arrest.
“It was hard, you knew you were going to be on TV, be the lead story, but I learned a lot from it,” Hawkins said. “A lot about myself, who my friends were, and how to trust the process.”
Hawkins struck a deal with prosecutors to enter a pre-trial diversion program. According to the State Attorney’s office, his charges will be dropped once he pays for the cost of the investigation and takes a course on impulse control. Then, it’s off to Tallahassee, with no criminal record.
“I did nothing wrong, I’m not guilty of anything, and if we went through this process through the courts, I can tell you with all we were bringing forward, I don’t think anyone would’ve found us guilty,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins has ideas already for legislation, starting with looking into possible mandatory minimum sentencing for domestic violence in honor of Nicole Montalvo. Investigators believe Montalvo was murdered by an ex who had been accused of domestic violence in the past.