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. Tampa man driving ATV killed in Gibsonton crash on U.S. 41

    Public Safety

    GIBSONTON — A 24-year-old man driving an all-terrain vehicle died Monday afternoon in a crash on U.S. 41, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  2. Questions about Russia chase Trump during first Israel visit


    JERUSALEM — President Donald Trump solemnly placed a note in the ancient stones of Jerusalem's Western Wall on Monday, sending a signal of solidarity to an ally he's pushing to work harder toward peace with the Palestinians. But his historic gesture- and his enthusiastic embrace of Israel's leader - were shadowed …

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after making joint statements, Monday in Jerusalem. [AP photo]
  3. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders


    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  4. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?


    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. Editorial: Preserve wild Florida before it's too late


    The last dairy farm in Hillsborough County has milked its final cow, the pastures sold to developers who will build 1,000 new homes. The remnants of the last commercial citrus grove in Pinellas County, where the Sunshine State's famed industry began in the 19th century, were sold last year to make room for 136 homes. …

    As dairy farms and citrus groves disappear, much more needs to be done to avoid paving over Florida’s wild spaces.