Cindy Roberts, the wife of Cpl. Mike Roberts who was gunned down in the line of duty in 2009, says her husband's pension funds should go to their son, Adam, who was 3 years old when his father was killed. But those funds stand to be inherited by her mother-in-law, Brenda Roberts.
In a complaint filed late last month in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, Cindy Roberts seeks to have the funds redirected to Adam and alleges that Brenda Roberts collected $284,000 in life insurance after Mike's death while giving very little to her grandson.
The action hints at an apparent bitter feud within the slain officer's family.
"I don't understand what this is all about," Brenda Roberts said. "Mike always used to tell me growing up, 'Mom, I'll take care of you.' I know he didn't forget Adam and her."
Mike Roberts was shot to death on Aug. 19, 2009, after he approached a homeless man, Humberto Delgado, who was pushing a shopping cart loaded with guns down Nebraska Avenue. Delgado was later sentenced to death.
Years before he died, Mike Roberts obtained a life insurance policy and named his mother as the beneficiary. He also participated in the deferred compensation benefits plan with the city of Tampa, which is administered by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. He later met and married his wife, but did not alter the policy paperwork.
Upon his death, Brenda Roberts received $284,000 from the insurance policy, according to the lawsuit. Cindy Roberts maintains that she is the "proper payee" for the pension benefits because she is caring for his child. Her mother-in-law "has not paid for any health, education, support and maintenance for the minor," the lawsuit states, beyond roughly $450 given to Adam in birthday and Christmas gifts.
Neither Cindy Roberts nor her attorney returned multiple messages for comment Friday.
Reached at her home in Orange County, Brenda Roberts disputed the statements made in the lawsuit. She said her policy payout was only $250,000 and that the rest went to Cindy and Adam, along with money from a separate policy of their own. To her knowledge, she said, Adam's schooling and other needs have all been paid for.
She would have given more to Adam, but in the years since Mike's death, Cindy and her family shut her out of their lives, she said. She doesn't know why. She calls Cindy periodically and hears a voicemail, she said. She leaves messages, but they are not returned.
"When (Mike) died, I felt like I was shunned," she said. "I never received a replica of his badge, nothing."
The last time she saw Adam was during Delgado's trial. She stayed at a hotel in Wesley Chapel. They all went to dinner together.
"I haven't seen Adam more than twice since my son died," she said. "Myself and my son Mike were very close. I don't know if (Cindy) was jealous of that. I really don't know. There's not a day that I don't think of him.
"Life," she said, "hasn't been good."