Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Port Richey officer cleared in gag-letter incident

PORT RICHEY — One month after being fired on accusations that he sent a gag letter to city employees, patrol Officer Bill Sager has been cleared of all wrongdoing.

The results of an investigation, which began two weeks after Sager was fired, said "it has not been determined who the author of the letter is or its origin."

Sager, 52, who has denied sending the letter, said he was upset that city officials fired him before investigating the matter. He said the situation "didn't have to happen."

"As a chief, I was always careful to honor people's rights," said Sager, who went from police chief to patrol officer last year. "After 23 years of trying to do a good job and do things the right way, I wasn't given that same opportunity."

After protesting his termination, Sager was reinstated Monday and placed on paid leave while police investigated.

City Manager Richard Reade defended the city's decision to fire Sager first and investigate later, saying "this wasn't a hasty decision. We followed personnel policy to the letter."

The gag letter jokingly suggests new office policies such as "Chubby people get 5 minutes for lunch, because that's all the time needed to drink a Slim Fast." At the bottom is Reade's name, as if he signed the memo.

The investigation couldn't determine who really sent it. But one fact points away from Sager: the ZIP code on the return address.

The return address on the envelope was a post office box that Sager had opened in May to allow members of the police union to correspond outside City Hall. But whenever Sager used that address, he used the correct ZIP code, 34673.

Whoever sent the gag letter to City Hall used a different ZIP code, 34668.

"It seems apparent that whoever sent the letter was unaware of the proper ZIP code," wrote the investigator, Detective James Ruland.

Ruland also wrote that "there were several occasions where he (Sager) used the P.O. Box as a return address for (police union) correspondence and at no time was the ZIP code 34668 used."

Ruland interviewed City Council members and police officers present at a meeting where Sager announced he had created the post office box. No one had proof that Sager sent the letter.

Sager received back pay for his weeks off the force when he was reinstated Monday. He remains on medical leave from an injury stemming from a scuffle with a suspect last year.

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at or (727) 869-6229.

Port Richey officer cleared in gag-letter incident 10/03/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 5, 2008 10:56am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. JFK's last birthday: Gifts, champagne and wandering hands on the presidential yacht


    It has been 100 years since John F. Kennedy's birth on May 29, 1917, at his parents' home in Brookline, Mass., just outside Boston. Over the course of his life, Kennedy enjoyed lavish birthday celebrations, the most famous being a Democratic fundraising bash at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, when a sequined …

    President John F. Kennedy aboard the Sequoia in 1963 opening birthday presents. [Robert Knudsen | John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum]
  2. 1 in 4 Florida adults aren't registered to vote, according to non-partisan group


    TALLAHASSEE — Five million people in Florida who are eligible to vote aren't registered, according to a nationwide non-partisan group that helps improve the accuracy of state voter rolls.

    Voters line up in front of the Coliseum Ballroom in St. Petersburg on Nov. 8. A non-partisan group estimates that more than a quarter of Florida's adult-age population isn't registered to vote. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Rays morning after: A lot that went into a marathon win


    Rays manager Kevin Cash had a simple strategy when Fox Sports Sun's Alex Corddry asked him how the team would move on from Sunday's marathon win and get ready to face the Rangers tonight in Texas:

    Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays celebrates as teammate Michael Martinez slides safely into home plate to score a run against the Minnesota Twins during the 14th inning.
  4. Navy parachutist dies during demonstration over Hudson River


    JERSEY CITY, N.J. — In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, a Navy Seal team member fell to his death Sunday after his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the Hudson River.

    Officials surround a U.S. Navy Seal's parachute that landed in a parking lot after the parachutist fell into the Hudson River when his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the river in Jersey City, N.J. The Navy said the parachutist was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center. [Joe Shine | Jersey Journal via AP]
  5. As White House defends Jared Kushner, experts question his alleged back-channel move


    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration argued over the weekend that back-channel communications are acceptable in building dialogue with foreign governments, part of an effort to minimize fallout over White House adviser Jared Kushner's reported discussion about creating a secret conduit to the Kremlin at a Russian …

    President-elect Donald Trump embraces son in law Jared Kushner, as his daughter Ivanka Trump stands nearby, after his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9. [Mark Wilson | Getty Images]