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Man tried to bribe Hernando deputy, report says

RIDGE MANOR — The deputy pulled two rolls of cash out of the driver's pocket. One totaled $80, and the other $176. The man had another $300 in his wallet.

As the deputy counted the cash just after 3 a.m. Friday, authorities say, the man made him offer: Let me go and you can keep the money.

Minutes earlier, Hernando sheriff's Deputy William Cooper had arrived at a traffic stop. Another deputy had just pulled over the man, who investigators say was driving erratically on Interstate 75, just north of Cortez Boulevard.

The man, a report said, gave Cooper what he called an "international driver's license" with the name Juan Pineda. The man insisted it was a valid ID card. The deputy insisted it was not.

When Cooper asked for another form of identification, authorities say, the man handed him a Mexican driver's license with the same name.

The deputy suspected the man might be intoxicated, so he asked him to step out of his white Cadillac Escalade. When authorities say he failed field sobriety tests, the deputy arrested the man on a charge of DUI and escorted him back to the patrol car.

Throughout the process, a report said, the suspect begged Cooper to let him go. Then, as Cooper counted the money, the man offered him the deal. Investigators say the deputy immediately put the money back in the suspect's pocket and told him that was inappropriate.

As Cooper later searched the vehicle, a report said, he found a Social Security card, again with the name Juan Pineda, and an "international passport" that matched the international driver's license. He also found a resident alien card with the same name, but with someone else's photograph and with what appeared to be an altered birth date. The Social Security card, Cooper said, also looked fake.

At the Hernando County Detention Center, investigators say, the suspect refused to take a breath test and suddenly acted as if he didn't understand English.

Soon after, Cooper contacted officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and asked that they run the suspect's fingerprints. They discovered that his name was Jorge Garcia, a 39-year-old living in Nobleton who was driving on a suspended license and previously had been charged with DUI.

An ICE agent told Cooper that Garcia was in the country illegally and that he had been deported from the United States multiple times. A report said the federal agency would order Garcia to leave the country again.

In Hernando, he faces a host of charges, including DUI, fraudulent use of personal identification and bribery.

Reach John Woodrow Cox at (352) 848-1432 or jcox@tampabay.com.

Man tried to bribe Hernando deputy, report says 11/29/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 8:10pm]
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