Dedorius Latrell Varnes is the 28-year-old former Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy who was arrested in July, when he was still in uniform, on a felony charge of aggravated stalking in what was one of the bizarre cases sheriff’s detectives had handled: he’d allegedly made 53 bullying, threatening and racist phone calls to a 67-year-old man for no other apparent motive than because he thought it was funny. Varnes’s only previous interaction with the man had been incidental. He’d been very partially involved in the investigation of the man’s complaint in an unrelated incident involving the man’s neighbor.
Sheriff Rick Staly called Varnes’s phone calls “atrocious” and suspended him without pay, pending a criminal and internal investigation of the case. Both investigations are ongoing.
Varnes had been with the sheriff’s office two and a half years when he was charged with aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony, and making harassing phone calls, a misdemeanor. He resigned on Aug. 4.
Thursday, he was arrested on an identical felony charge stemming from an equally bizarre case when he was still a deputy.
On Nov. 27, someone struck the mailbox at a home on Point Pleasant Drive off Belle Terre Parkway in Palm Coast. The homeowner called police. Varnes responded, but told the homeowner it was a civil matter–meaning that she should resolve it on her own. He did not turn on his body camera. The woman’s husband lodged a complaint with the sheriff’s office through the agency’s website, saying he didn’t feel Varnes handled the call properly. When Varnes’s supervisor, Greg Tietje, was made aware, he asked Varnes to return to the house and rectify the issue.
Varnes again didn’t activate his body cam, but according to the investigation, Varnes upbraided the homeowner for complaining. (The investigation blanks out the alleged victim’s name in compliance with Marcy’s Law. For the sake of clarity, he will be referred to as “John,” which is not his actual name.) John hung up on him.
Things then started getting strange for John. He started getting lurid texts from an unknown number. The texter called John names, claimed he’d had sex with John’s wife and would do so again, adding personal details about his wife and her home address and again referring to John in demeaning, sexually humiliating ways while playing himself up as a desirable man. At some point during those texts John fired back a vile, racist slur of his own, though he had no idea what race the sender was.
A day later the texts got more intimidating: the sender sent a picture of John’s house with the words: “I know.” The image was taken from just 30 or 40 yards away.
“You still gonna cut my throat????” the sender asked John in a text. John replied: “Yea… come back.” The sender continued to taunt him with insults, dares and slurs, ending with “Sleep with 1 eye open bitch.”
After receiving that text, John reviewed his own surveillance camera’s footage and noticed a law enforcement patrol car passing by his house twice around the same time when the image had been sent to him. John told the sender he had him on camera. “Lol I just came by again Ima see you later,” the sender texted.
By then John had deduced that to him, the patrol car driver was Varnes, and the sender was Varnes. He addressed him as such, telling him he knew who he was, and that he’d sent the information to several people in case something happened to him. He also told Varnes that he knew patrol vehicles are equipped with GPS trackers, which precisely trace a vehicle’s travels.
Varnes then tells him John has him all figured pout, but adds that he (Varnes) will now “file charges today for threats and a hate crime for your racial slurs.” Varnes then takes the taunting in a different direction, threatening to “expose” his racist texts with a picture of John attached.
That was the end of the text exchange. John was fearful of again contacting the sheriff’s office because “filing his initial complaint on Dedorius Varnes was the genesis of the threats and harassment,” the detective’s investigative report states.
It’s not clear from the report how the sheriff’s office determined that an incident involving Varnes had unfolded. But while investigating the first case, they had discovered that Varnes used a “text now” phone, which masks the user’s identity.
In early July a detective was assigned the new case and opened the investigation, securing an interview with John on July 3. John produced the texts and the video footage of the patrol car. GPS data and Varnes’s schedule and assigned sectors were analyzed. The data showed Varnes’s patrol car going by John’s house, turning around and going by again the evening of the incendiary texts. He was out of his assigned sector. Dispatching indicated he had no calls for service or emergencies outside of his sector.
To link the “Text Now” phone to Varnes, Detectives spoke with an on-and-off girlfriends of Varnes’ in Palatka and St Augustine who described his odd use of multiple cell phones, and confirmed that they’d received texts from that particular cell phone.
Varnes himself, who submitted to an interview with detectives, made a strange claim: that sometimes while he was working in his patrol car, he’d fall asleep and “people might take his phone or drive his patrol vehicle around.”
“All of the evidence gathered during this investigation indicates that the only motive Dedorius Varnes had to text [John] was retaliation for the complaint filed by [John] with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office” in November 2019.
The detective’s investigation found probable cause to charge Varnes with making threats and extortion, and tampering or harassing a victim, both second degree felonies, criminal use of a public record and providing false information, and aggravated stalking, both third-degree felonies. He was actually charged with just aggravated stalking.
“This is an instance of a rogue officer tarnishing the badge,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a release issued this afternoon. “This type of
behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated and to see that he has done it on more than one occasion is appalling. He is an embarrassment to the law enforcement profession and deserves to go to prison. We are doing everything we can to have the state revoke his law enforcement certificate.”
Varnes was booked at the county jail on $25,000 bond, which he quickly posted. He was released. He is represented in both cases by Michael Lambert, the Daytona Beach attorney, who had not yet seen the new charges when contacted by FlaglerLive today.
“We will review the facts under oath via depositions and see where that leaves us,” Lambert said in an email. “That though is at a later date and time. His arrest is how the process begins. Time, and discovery, can cure errors on either side.”
Conc citizen says
This cop, ex-cop is dangerous. Someone should really keep an eye on him. His Bizarre behavior seems to be escalating.
Agreed! If I were the victim I would have more cameras as well as proper self protection! Poor guy!
Hard to believe this jack ass slipped under the radar with all the screening. That is a feat in and of itself. The immaturity and stupidity that he thought he wouldn’t be caught doing these acts multiple times knowing the resources LEO have is arrogance for an ultra cheap thrill of feeling superior. This guy has issues on alot of levels. Get him off the streets already
El arco el angel says
I would say that “John” arm himself and his wife, which is their Constitutional Right. And they need to make their neighbors aware there is an INSANE EX-Police Officer loose in Palm Coast.
Time has come in America to protect one’s family and self . DO NOT depend on Law Enforcement because they are guided by politics. The term ” SERVE & PROTECT ” was removed from squad cars years ago. Your on your own good citizens of Palm Coast.
Generalizing all parts of a population is wrong. There are many, many more good LEO’s than bad.
Know the ropes. says
Inaccurate, many start out good but the bushel is loaded with bad cops. They either protect the blue line gang or the rookies become victims themselves. If they don’t, they may as well quit or don’t ever call for backup cause it ain’t coming.
I completely agree! They should mandate body cameras 24/7!
Willy Boy says
Terrifying to realize this guy had the power to arrest, and carry a loaded firearm. FCSO needs to tighten-up it’s vetting process.
See something say something... says
FCSO does have a tight vetting process, however, by deception, this POS got through and for his crimes, he’s being dealt with. Unlike many other corrupt ridden law enforcement agencies that cover up for the offending officers, they launched a thorough investigation and nailed him.
It’s not the Sheriffs department, it’s the court judges that are for sale. This ex-cop has twice broken the law and is a clear and present danger. So, with the threat of violence on a law abiding citizens, he should not have been granted bail until the citizen is granted safety at the offenders expense, not the taxpayers. His qualified immunity should have been revoked on the first incident and attorney fees paid by the offender, again, not the taxpayers.
Automatic serving of an injunction should also have been ordered to protect the citizen when the offender faced the judge. May have occurred but not mentioned here and while it’s public information, who knows when it will be released.
Two,too,and to says
First off his attorney is not the public defender and he is inciting all of the cost of his defense.
Second he has information filed in a court with a possible sentence of greater than one year. He is prohibited by law from possessing or purchasing firearms
One has to ask themselvea to what level of corruption go and how many times does this type of behavior happen. really How many more victims are out there. Did he poison everything he touched as a LEO.
This guys nuts and needs to be locked up snd the key tossed away.
Looks like the FCSO needs to look into another psychological examiner as clearly, the former Deputy Varnes fooled the examiner.
See something say something... says
Some are masters of deception. Everyone who has encountered this maggot negatively, needs to come forward and file a complaint.
Just a thought says
I encountered Varnes several times as an employee of the local fire department. He was always questioning what and why were doing when dealing with black patients. I always felt uncomfortable on a scene when he was there.
This a common amongst Law Enforcement against everyday citizens, of course by varying degrees. The only reason we’re hearing about it is because Varns is african American. I hope he spills his guts and snitches on all of his colleagues for similar behavior you’ll never hear about.
NJ cops vandalize cars of man who filed complaint against them
Lance Carroll says
I am certain that this guy is not the only Flagler Deputy posing behind a burner phone. I would gladly offer my phone records!
Concerned Citizen says
He should be charged with Malficience Of Office. It’s a Felony also. This man took an oath to serve and protect. If an Officer violates the very law he was worn to uphold then all gloves come off prosecuting. No plea and max out that sentence.
I was in Public Safety for almost 25 year of my adult life. After my military service I started out in Law Enforcement then retired from Fire Rescue as a Lieutenant. We had our problems sure. But most of us finished our careers with no to minimal disciplinary issues and retired honorably. Now it seems everytime you turn around more and more in the public safety sector are getting themselves jammed up. And over stupid stuff as well.
It’s maddening to see anyone wearing a badge disrespect it. I saw it as an honor to serve.
Lance Carroll says
Rick Staly should be held accountable and brought before judiciary for his failures of oath to the public as well…..but, who will the politically motivated judges find at fault? Crooked cops, crooked courts, crooked lines they follow that leads to a guaranteed fatass paycheck.
I was a law enforcement officer in a larger city. I am also Republican. I add that to show I have no political bias toward our Sheriff but in my opinion, he is more smoke and mirrors than hands on as is portrayed in social media. He has a lot of the public fooled. He takes much credit for drug busts or any other major incident when he can get there in time. (If not, traffic can always be held up on I-95 until he gets there for that photo op). There’s not enough credit given to those really doing all the legwork… the deputies. Imagine doing months worth of investigations to have the boss show up and take credit for it all. Hes a boss…not a leader. Unfortunately for the deputies, (I’m sure morale is low but they’ll never tell out of fear for their jobs) they’re probably looking at another four years with this Sheriff.
The focus on this one former Deputy is misplaced. He was part of a team and had at least one supervisor. There have been a lot of problems at the Sherrif’s office in the past few years. Since the problems are in Bailiff, Jail and now Patrol Divisions, one has to question the overall leadership structure the agency.
If a citizen calls and tells you the Deputy you sent out did a bad job, you don’t send them back out. What did you expect to happen? His supervisor should have gone to the complaint to resolve the sitaution himself and taken corrective action with his subordinate. Why was this not done?
How did he wander off his patrol area and have time for all this harassment? Was his supervisor just looking the other way?
I ask Sheriff Staley – How are we supposed to have confidence in you and your people at this point? Or was that the reason you were suggesting open-carry because you lack confidence in your Deputies? Maybe we need a few less Deputies and a better Sheriff to watch over our community.
Everybody is saying throw away the keys and send him to Prison, really, you have Officers that kills People and they never gets arrested. I hope y’all comments are the same for those Officers also.
Trailer Bob says
Definitely a psycho. But this man is also dangerous to the community.
Most likely needs some mandated treatment for mental issues, for sure.
Too bad, he could’ve had a pretty decent career.
He decided that that would not be the case.
Lance Carroll says
The problem is that he is one of the only ones caught as of yet. Remember the deputy that pulled you over a few weeks ago?
“I know it’s hard being a cop … But some jobs can’t have bad apples. Some jobs, everybody gotta be good. Like, pilots. American Airlines can’t be like, ‘You know, most of our pilots like to land, we just got a few bad apples that like to crash into mountains.'”Chris Rock