Governor removes Tavares mayor from office after arrest

Robert Wolfe filed claim, requested reimbursement of $9,300 in February

TAVARES, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott sent an order removing the mayor of Tavares on Thursday, hours after the mayor was booked into the Lake County Jail, city officials said.

According to the State Attorney's Office, Robert Wolfe was arrested on insurance fraud charges Wednesday.

Tavares' city administrator John Drury tells News 6 Vice Mayor Lori Pfister will step into Wolfe's place and will compile a list of candidates to consider as a temporary council member. She will then nominate a candidate and needs approval with a majority of the board.

Drury says he delivered the news to Wolfe.

"His reaction was, 'Thank you for letting me know,' and that's about it," Drury said.

The State Attorney's Office said Wolfe filed a claim back in February saying he was forced to relocate to a rental property and requested a reimbursement of $9,300.

The claim was investigated by the Department of Financial Services, which gathered surveillance video and witness statements, and talked to the mayor himself. They concluded he never left his property.

The $9,300 claim was never paid to Wolfe, but the state attorney said just the application alone is a felony in the third degree for misrepresentation.

City leaders say Tavares can still function without its former mayor.

"We've got a cohesive city council that rolls up its sleeves and gets the job done here in Tavares," Drury said. "I suspect that will continue."

This isn't the first time Wolfe has had a run-in with the law. He was arrested in May after his wife said he fired his gun inside their bedroom. In that case, prosecutors decided not to file charges against Wolfe because statements made by his wife were inconsistent.

Wolfe was taken into custody and quickly bonded out Wednesday.

He's facing one count of insurance fraud and is due in court in four weeks.

City leaders add the mayor's latest arrest is a distraction from all the positive news coming out of Tavares.

"The job at hand is to continue to serve the public, protect the public, and keep these wonderful projects that are underway in the City of Tavares," Drury said.

The city's new mayor could nominate a new temporary councilmember as early as next week.

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