After more than 30 internal investigations, Pasco deputy quits

NEW PORT RICHEY — Deputy Robert Scott Gattuso, the frequent subject of internal investigations during his 20 years in law enforcement, has retired from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

Gattuso, 45, gave his two-week notice in a letter Wednesday to Maj. Maurice Radford. He said he plans to pursue "a better life outside the state of Florida."

The Sheriff's Office made his retirement effective immediately and denied his request to keep his service weapon. That's because Gattuso stepped down while under investigation — a situation he has been in more than 30 times in his career.

The Sheriff's Office would not release the latest internal investigation findings Monday. Spokesman Kevin Doll said Radford still had to "sign off" on the reports. He has not said what the allegations are.

But among those past investigations, 13 times the allegations against Gattuso were sustained. They included discourtesy, insubordination, conduct unbecoming and conflict of interest.

His career nearly ended in 1995, when the tally of complaints and investigations stood at 21. Then-Sheriff Lee Cannon fired him based on the "totality of the incidents involved, the disregard shown the PCSO and the citizens it serves."

But Gattuso appealed to the agency's Career Service Appeals Board and was soon reinstated.

In April 2003, when Gattuso was working as a detective, he was arrested on a felony charge of forgery. Detectives said he signed his ex-wife's name on a $372 check from an insurance company and put the money in his own bank account. He claimed she had told him to do so.

In December that year, he pleaded no contest to a lesser misdemeanor charge of attempted forgery and was sentenced to probation, maintaining his innocence all the while. His probation was terminated a month later, launching the Sheriff's Office internal investigation of the matter.

It found Gattuso should not have cashed the check, and as punishment, he was demoted to road patrol, lost about 11 weeks of vacation, and saw his pay cut from $23.13 to $22.02 an hour.

By the time he returned to work in March 2004, he had been on leave for more than a year — every bit of it paid.

Then in 2005, Gattuso reported his Nissan Pathfinder stolen. It was found at the bottom of Lake Tarpon.

Gattuso told a Tarpon Springs police officer that his new wife had been driving the Pathfinder that September night. She'd had too much to drink, and he told her to pull over so he could come pick her up. He couldn't remember where they'd left the SUV.

When investigators talked to his wife, she told them of her husband's plan to dump the Pathfinder and buy a new truck.

"He would just put it in the water somewhere and make it disappear where they would never find it," the wife told the detectives, according to transcripts of that investigation.

She added that he told her: "You have no idea what I've gotten away with."

After 18 months, prosecutors ultimately filed no charges.

The Sheriff's Office did not investigate.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

After more than 30 internal investigations, Pasco deputy quits 10/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 9, 2008 3:37pm]

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