Fake sign language interpreter: Woman has record of arrests for fraud

Alicia Farmer
December 6, 2017

"She was standing there twisting her hands back and forth".

A day after deaf advocacy groups criticized a sign language interpreter, saying her signing made no sense during a press conference announcing the arrest of an alleged Tampa serial killer, there's a new twist.

While Robertss attempts to communicate Dugans news may have caused more confusion than understanding, its not the first time an interpreter was subject of more chatter than the news itself.

"She sat up there and waved her arms like she was singing Jingle Bells", Rachell Settambrino, who is deaf and teaches American Sign Language at the University of South Florida, told the Tampa Bay Times. Advocates said the problem highlights the need for legislation that requires all ASL interpreters be certified. "When she was spelling words out, she wasn't spelling anything at all".

Because the press conference was put together so quickly, the department didn't have time to get an interpreter, McGregor said.

"I know the deaf mother of one of the victims' of the serial killer, she was standing there. She was standing right there and the interpreter was signing in a way that was incomprehensible", Bonni said. A Tampa police spokesperson says he didn't do his due diligence and did not question Roberts when she showed up.

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The city relies on a pre-paid contractor for interpreters, and police assumed she was sent over.

A person matching Roberts' name and age has an extensive criminal record that includes convictions for fraud over $50,000 and fraudulent use of personal information, but police failed to confirm whether it was the same woman, ABC News reported.

Officials with the Tampa Police Department aren't sure how Derlyn Roberts ended up interpreting the news conference.

"Fifty-one hours ago, zero 12 22 (indecipherable) murder three minutes in 14 weeks ago in old (indecipherable) murder four five 55,000 plea 10 arrest murder bush (indecipherable) three age 24", said Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, according to the sign language from Roberts.

Police say what she did isn't a crime. We stopped by Roberts home to speak with her but no one answered the door. Instead, it's an ethical violation.

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