Two Florida gynecologists were arrested after a doorbell camera captured them tearing down their neighbor’s Trump 2020 flag last week.
Geoffrey Michael Fraiche, 41, of Gulf Breeze, told a second neighbor that he and his wife, Laura Webb-Fraiche, 38, were only playing “capture the flag,” when they snatched the banner, states a report from the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office.
The husband and wife—both registered to vote with the Florida Democratic Party—are each charged with misdemeanors: criminal mischief, trespassing, larceny, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The couple was booked into the county jail on Tuesday morning and released about an hour and a half later, records show.
According to the police report, the flag owner’s doorbell camera recorded the doctors driving a golf cart to his waterfront lot on April 7, allegedly ignoring a pair of “no trespassing” signs. Two small children were with them.
A Daily Beast review of the footage shows the couple sauntering over to the dockside flagstaff. Laura’s sea-green dress billowed in the breeze, as Geoffrey climbed a ladder barefooted, wearing what appears to be blue swim trunks. Their kids waited in a patch of sand, and one can be heard pleading, “I don’t want you two going to jail.” Laura said soon after, “Don’t worry about it.”
The husband then shoved the ladder aside and handed the blue Trump campaign banner to his wife, who twirled it around her like a shawl before they all scampered off.
“Laura was carrying a small child in what appears to be a diaper, she puts the child down on the sand, begins to violently shake the flag pole. The other child attempts to stop Laura, but she did not stop shaking the flag pole,” a deputy noted in his police report.
David Brannen, a 67-year-old property developer and the owner of the Trump flag, told cops the couple broke the pole during the alleged theft and that it would cost $500 to install a new one. “David said he did not want this type of incident to happen to someone else. David said he couldn’t believe they would do something like this with children with them,” the deputy stated in the report.
Meanwhile, Brannen told The Daily Beast his Trump banner was only up for a few days before the doctors decided to snatch it.
Michael Preskitt, a business partner of Brannen’s, told police that Geoffrey Fraiche called him the day after the Trump banner takedown. “Geoffrey told Michael that he needed his help,” the report states, adding that Geoffrey said the couple was “a little drunk and came on the property and took the Trump flag.”
The doctor claimed he told his employer he was playing a game of “capture the flag” and that his neighbor wouldn’t mind, the document adds.
“Geoffrey said he needed his help and this is about his job,” the police report continues. “Michael explained he told Geoffrey the property and flag belonged to David. Michael said he also told Geoffrey that he needed to tell the truth.”
Preskitt told police that Laura boasted on Facebook about the seemingly politically-motivated prank but removed her posts.
The couple did not return messages left by The Daily Beast.
Laura is a gynecologist at West Florida Hospital, while Geoffrey works at Sacred Heart hospital in Pensacola.
Brannen told The Daily Beast he didn’t know the couple but that Geoffrey approached Preskitt last summer at the docks to admire his boat. The Fraiches live across the canal from Brannen’s lot, in a neighborhood of million-dollar homes, Brannen said.
When Brannen was alerted to the theft on his Ring video camera system, he and Preskitt shared the footage on a neighborhood network to see if anyone recognized the couple. Several residents pointed to the physicians, Brannen said.
“They were both doctors, so they should know better,” Brannen told The Daily Beast. “They had two children there. One was screaming, ‘Don’t do this, you’ll go to jail.’”
Brannen said he wouldn’t have notified cops if their kids weren’t present for the incident. “I said, ‘People need to be looking out for their children,’” he added.
After the doctors were released from jail, neighbors spotted them having a party at their house and raising a Trump 2020 flag on their sailboat, Brannen claimed.
The developer, who joked that he prefers people not describe him as “elderly,” says many of his Gulf Breeze brethren are Trump supporters or conservative. While working in real estate, Brannen was previously acquainted with the Trump family when he worked on a Trump Tower project in New Orleans that was never built.
“This is Northwest Florida, the panhandle,” Brannen said. “We’re the ones that put George Bush back in office. We always come out very conservative.”
Indeed, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)—lately in the news over the government’s coronavirus response and his decision to wear a gas mask on the House floor—took a moment to fume about the incident on Twitter yesterday, seething: “Apparently two medical degrees lack the decency & common sense of a child.”
Of the Fraiches, Brannen said, “These people really stick out like a sore thumb.”
“I don’t know what they were smoking because two doctors should not be out there with their two children stealing the flag and vandalizing,” he added. “That’s not normal.”
Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story cited Brannen saying the doctors were spotted hoisting a defaced Trump flag on their boat. Later, he clarified that it appeared to be a different Trump 2020 flag than the stolen one.