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Former Brooksville detective Shawn Terry arrested on perjury charges

BROOKSVILLE — Former Brooksville police detective Shawn Terry faces a pair of perjury-related charges following accusations that he lied while testifying under oath about a drug case.

Terry surrendered to authorities at the county jail shortly before noon Friday with his brother, a Hernando County sheriff's deputy. He was charged with one count of perjury in an official proceeding and one count of solicitation to commit perjury.

Hours later, Terry was released after posting $3,000 bail.

Terry resigned Thursday from the Brooksville Police Department. In a two-page letter to police Chief George Turner, the 33-year-old Terry said he was leaving because he "decided to pursue other interests to further my career.''

He had been suspended with pay from the BPD three weeks ago pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Turner declined to comment on Terry's arrest or say if it was related to the department's investigation.

Terry has been the subject of a joint month-long investigation between the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney's Office.

According to court documents, Terry lied while under questioning by Assistant State Attorney Christine Manno during a deposition June 3. At some point in the deposition, Manno asked Terry about his recruitment of a police informant.

Terry told Manno that the informant was neither a suspect nor "in danger of arrest" despite "knowing that said statements were false," according to prosecutors.

The State Attorney's Office also said Terry encouraged the informant to "testify falsely while under oath" during another deposition related to the case.

Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgway said that as a result, the charges against Jerome Scrivens Jr. were eventually dropped. Scrivens, 49, faced charges of sale and possession of cocaine.

"When one of your key witnesses testifies falsely about some material element of the case, you can't hardly go forward and ask the jury to believe the witness when it comes to other elements of the offense," Ridgway said.

Ridgway said the State Attorney's Office has ordered all cases in which Terry is a witness to be reviewed. As of Friday afternoon, Ridgway said he did not know how many cases could be affected.

"We'll decide case by case what we'll do," Ridgway said. "It's nothing that we enjoy doing."

If convicted of felony perjury, Terry faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The solicitation to commit perjury charge, a misdemeanor, carries a maximum of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Terry's attorney, Ellis Faught Jr. of Brandon, said his client plans to plead not guilty.

Over his 10-year career in local law enforcement, mostly spent with the BPD and the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, Terry has been the subject of 30 complaints and investigations and eight reprimands. His disciplinary record was the worst at the Brooksville Police Department.

The complaints and investigations included accusations that he perjured himself in a deposition on charges he used excessive force during a traffic stop.

Terry was investigated at least eight times for alleged policy violations ranging from failing to return messages to making threatening statements to a suspect.

Terry resigned from the Sheriff's Office in July 2006 after the agency began exploring allegations of policy violations.

Within law enforcement circles in Hernando County, Terry's arrest on Friday came as little surprise. For years, prosecutors have said they handled his cases with extra caution and defense attorneys have questioned his integrity in open court.

"For a long time, he had a reputation for not telling the truth," said Peyton Hyslop, a former county judge who now practices as a defense attorney. "It's sad to think that at this point he's actually been charged with it."

Chip Mander, a local defense attorney, previously raised concerns about Terry's honesty after a deposition in December 2007. Mander suggested Terry might have committed perjury under oath and forwarded the case to the State Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors investigated but declined to file charges, instead referring the case to the Police Department.

"With the history he developed, I could not believe Brooksville had even been employing him," Mander said Friday. "From a defense standpoint, you always looked particularly close (when Terry was a witness), because you suspected that something unusual would probably be there."

Faught said his client's checkered history would probably be inadmissible as evidence in this case. "I don't know that all of that allegation and innuendo is going to get in," he said.

Times staff writer John Frank contributed to this report. Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120. You can follow Joel on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jandersontimes.

Former Brooksville detective Shawn Terry arrested on perjury charges 07/16/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 16, 2010 8:25pm]
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