Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former Florida Department of Children and Families employee Al Zimmerman to plead guilty to lying to FBI

TAMPA — A former spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families once boasted about a physical relationship with actor Keanu Reeves, according to documents filed Wednesday in federal court.

Al Zimmerman, who faces at least 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to producing child pornography, also talked about partying with boys from Plant High School at his Tampa home, court records say.

Prosecutors included these details in a plea agreement for Michael Hernandez, a former DCF employee who has agreed to plead guilty to lying to authorities last year when they questioned him about Zimmerman.

Hernandez could face as much as five years in prison. He was as shocked as anyone to learn of the child porn allegations against Zimmerman, said Ethan Way, Hernandez's attorney.

"Every time he just thinks about it, it turns his stomach," Way said.

In Hernandez's plea, he admits lying to FBI investigators about tampering with Zimmerman's work laptop and home computer. Hernandez worked as a computer technician for the DCF, and Zimmerman, 41, cultivated an out-of-office relationship with him, prosecutors said.

Zimmerman asked Hernandez to destroy files on his computers when he became concerned about a background check after applying for a job with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, according to court records.

Hernandez obliged, then tossed Zimmerman's home computer in a Tallahassee trash bin. The two had had a sexual relationship, Hernandez told authorities, and Hernandez said he had a key to Zimmerman's house. When the two first met, Zimmerman was 39 and Hernandez was 23, a college student working for the DCF.

"Zimmerman claimed he was well connected, knew important people, and even told Hernandez that he had had a previous physical relationship with Keanu Reeves," according to Hernandez's plea agreement. "He made it a point to try to minimize sex between two males, telling him that 'it was no big deal,' and that sex between males was not unnatural."

A publicist for Reeves did not respond Wednesday to an e-mail seeking comment.

Zimmerman also said that while living in Tampa, he partied with boys from Plant High and was known as the "Plant Menace," court records said.

Authorities said Zimmerman became friendly with underage males in Hillsborough and Orange counties and enticed them into producing sexually explicit images. Investigators have identified six or seven victims.

Kevin Graham can be reached at or (813) 226-3433.

Former Florida Department of Children and Families employee Al Zimmerman to plead guilty to lying to FBI 02/11/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 13, 2009 2:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. President Trump: Nation's culture being 'ripped apart' by Civil War statue removals


    WASHINGTON — Showing his characteristic refusal to back down in the face of criticism, President Donald Trump deepened his defense of Confederate war memorials Thursday, sending out a series of messages on Twitter that adopted the language and arguments of white nationalists who have opposed their removal.

    President Donald Trump points to members of the media as he answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday. Republican leaders on Wednesday tiptoed around Trump's extraordinary comments on white supremacists.  [Associated Press]
  2. With election heating up, Bill Nelson floods Tampa Bay


    Sen. Bill Nelson seems to have set up a residency in Tampa Bay, a crucial area for his upcoming re-election campaign.

    Nelson campaigns with his wife in Orlando in 2012
  3. Martinez Middle School evacuated after bomb threat


    LUTZ — Bob Martinez Middle School has been evacuated after someone called in a bomb threat, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Another local Confederate display sparks division, this one over name of the war


    TAMPA — While the Hillsborough County commission was wrestling over the future of Confederate monument at the county courthouse, a lawsuit has been playing out in court over how best to represent the Civil War across town at Veterans Memorial Park.

    Supporters of a Civil War display at Veterans Memorial Park and Museum had a brochure made to attract donations. They argue in a lawsuit that their efforts were thwarted when the park's executive committee changed their plans.
  5. Myrtle Avenue closed, man hospitalized after Clearwater bike crash


    CLEARWATER — Myrtle Avenue is closed in both directions following a bicycle crash that hospitalized a man with serious injuries.