by SC Reporter Reanna Haase
Detective John Eicher has been awarded the prestigious Officer of the Year award for solving a complex fraud case targeted at a Sanibel resident.
This case took Detective Eicher about six to seven months to complete and involved a Sanibel resident being defrauded of $75,000 to $80,000. The victim’s identity was stolen by a woman who fled to California and opened a bank account with a fake Florida driver’s license to access the money. The case involved a second woman who claimed to be the niece of the victim.
Detective Eicher said the “niece” went to four different banks to withdraw about $50,000 in cash and transfer the rest of the money into other accounts.
“I was able to identify the female who said she was the niece, through video(s) and statements from the employees of the bank that where the account was opened… I was able to fly out to Palm Springs (Calif.), where I was assisted by a neighboring agency, Desert Hot Springs (Police Department) … She confessed to it and… we were able to arrest her, extradite her, and she is being prosecuted now,” Detective Eicher said.
He added it was very rewarding for him to be able to solve this case and to be able to give the victim the closure they needed.
“It is like getting a huge puzzle… the road officers go out and they get their initial report…then I have to take all the pieces, flip them all over and then put them together and once you get that last piece and you put it in that puzzle, and she confesses, and you get to arrest. It’s just such a rewarding feeling, knowing that you’re able to put this puzzle together and help the victim, so they can put some closure to the (situation),” Detective Eicher said.
At the city council meeting on June 7, the Sanibel Police Department and the Sanibel City Council presented Detective Eicher with the 2022 Officer of the Year award as a result of him solving this case.
During the meeting, as Mayor Holly Smith was presenting the award to Detective Eicher, she said the Sanibel Police Department wanted to recognize his excellent case work and managing it to a successful conclusion.
“I will say, on behalf of the city council and the citizens of the city, we are extremely fortunate to have the police department that we have, making sure that we are protected. This was a huge effort and it resulted in success; I would venture to say that most do not. So, I thank you for your work on behalf of all of us, and we are very fortunate to have you as one of our detectives,” Mayor Smith said.
Detective Eicher said receiving this award was not just a win for him, but a win for the whole department, because the solving of this case was a huge team effort.
“It is very humbling…to me, it is just me doing my job. My job is to take a case, put the work into the case, and take it as far as I can take it and that is to find out who committed the crime… I am just very lucky to be involved in this agency, because if it wasn’t for them having faith in what I do, I wouldn’t be able to be successful at what I do… It is like a family,” Detective Eicher said.
His son Mason Eicher was one of four students awarded the Judith Ann Zimomra Scholarship, established for children of city employees, in the same council meeting Eicher was presented his award.
“It was exciting to be there at the same time. I’m very proud of my son… (he) has worked extremely hard to get a scholarship. He is a very good baseball player; he was able to play at the start of every game…and still maintain good enough grades to be on the Dean’s List… I was so proud to be able to be there when he accepted that scholarship and for him to be there, whenever I got the award,” Detective Eicher said.
The three remaining recipients of this scholarship were:
Kaylee Kwek- daughter of Lead Tradesworker Christopher Kwek
Amber Schweitzer- daughter of Tradesworker II Steven Schweitzer
Kayla Triplett- daughter of Support Services Supervisor Cornelia Powell
The recipients of this scholarship received $2,500 to go toward their future.