Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Sun Sentinel.
A busted house arrest ankle monitor is the latest trouble for a retired Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy who was convicted of manslaughter last year.
A judge Wednesday said Carlton Nebergall tampered with the device Aug. 14 while at home under a $500,000 bond.
The 64-year-old resident of The Acreage testified that the GPS tracker simply malfunctioned when he put on a pair of socks, and he swore he didn’t break it on purpose.
But prosecutors and the sheriff’s office argued this was no accident, though no one suggested there was an escape plan. Nebergall, who was booked back in jail within hours of the incident, will be staying there while his appeal is pending.
“It’s extremely unlikely that that band popped out on its own due to an adjustment of a sock,” Circuit Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen said. “I do find that Mr. Nebergall intentionally manipulated the ankle monitor that resulted in it becoming non-functional and coming apart.”
Last September, Nebergall was sentenced to 13 years in prison for the 2018 killing of his son-in-law; the jury rejected his self-defense claim but settled on a manslaughter charge instead of first-degree murder.
Then in late November, Gillen granted bond while Nebergall tries to overturn his conviction and punishment.
There had been no violations of Nebergall’s conditions until the monitor suddenly failed. He drove to the house arrest office at 10 p.m. for what he expected was a replacement device. Instead, he was taken into custody.
Deputy Aaron Jones, a house arrest program supervisor, told Judge Gillen that Nebergall destroyed the ankle monitor and he deserved to lose house arrest privileges permanently.
“It takes a lot of force to get this off,” he said, showing a sample of the device. “Once the bracelet is compromised, all tracking stops.”
Assistant State Attorney Lauren Godden Burke said Nebergall messed with the monitor and failed to tell the truth about what happened.
Breaking News Alerts Newsletter
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
“He clearly did more than just put on tube socks,” she said.
Defense attorney Jack Fuchs argued his client had no desire to run, especially because he was due to have two surgeries within days for prostate cancer and a hand condition.
“This is not a situation where he was trying to flee,” Fuchs said, contending the monitor just broke. “It’s illogical to think he’s going to risk his cancer surgery.”
Asked whether he purposely cracked open the device, Nebergall said, “God no, not at all.”
The judge said he wants Nebergall to get whatever treatments he needs, so medical furloughs will be granted upon request.
Nebergall left the sheriff’s office in 2012, ending a 27-year career with the agency, mostly on road patrol. Records show he earned a “good conduct medal” for a quarter-century of service. He also was reprimanded a few times over his behavior during traffic stops, according to disciplinary files.