TAMPA — Rodney Philon told a judge he was frightened and confused the morning that SWAT members surrounded his Wesley Chapel house and demanded he come outside.
He held off deputies for nearly six hours. He had his stepdaughter answer the door and say he was out fishing, authorities said.
"I was really scared until they told me what was going on. I'd seen a bunch of guns," Philon told Senior U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew at his sentencing Friday on drug charges in federal court.
The judge didn't buy it. Philon, 38, was a jail deputy at the time of his March arrest.
"I find it incredible that a corrections officer would not know what was going on and hole up in his house and expose his family," Bucklew said.
Philon pleaded guilty in June to illegal possession of an anabolic steroid with intent to distribute. Authorities say they caught him selling several tablets of Dianabol to an informant in the parking lot of a Publix on State Road 54.
Bucklew sentenced him Friday to two years of probation, including six months of house arrest and 75 hours of community service. Under sentencing guidelines, he could have spent several months behind bars.
"You were a law enforcement officer. We expect more," the judge added.
Philon had worked at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office since 1998 and had a good employment record.
Authorities also say he had knowledge of a massive illegal distribution of prescription pills involving another Pasco deputy.
Don Riggans, a former road patrol deputy, pleaded guilty in a separate hearing Friday to possessing a firearm in connection with drug trafficking and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute hydrocodone, an addictive painkiller.
Prosecutors say Riggans conspired with Robert "Fat Bob" Caddick of Oviedo, chief executive of a pharmacy called Medipharm, who used his connections to steal prescription drugs. A third co-defendant, Kevin Massimino of Tampa, put the pills in circulation on the street, authorities said.
In March, according to court documents, Riggans, Massimino and a person who turned out to be a police informant worked up a plan to sell a load of pills to a drug dealer in Miami but rip off the payment by having Riggans, in his patrol cruiser, conduct a bogus traffic stop.
Philon was not charged in that case, though prosecutors said he knew about the plan.
"He certainly was a player that led to that criminal conduct," Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Porcelli said.
Riggans, 34, was arrested — and fired — when he showed up for work at 6:30 a.m. March 16. He had been at the Sheriff's Office since 1999.
Massimino pleaded guilty Friday along with Riggans. They each face a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of life.
Caddick signed a plea agreement last month.
All three will be sentenced Dec. 12.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.