Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas deputy fired, accused of pawning duty gun, stealing prescription drugs

Steven Jared Smith, 32, was fired Wednesday. Charges against him include grand theft.

Steven Jared Smith, 32, was fired Wednesday. Charges against him include grand theft.

LARGO — Supervisors noticed when former Deputy Steven Jared Smith's work performance started to slip.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said he was a "good deputy" when he was hired in October 2012. But then he started coming in late, missing work and taking too long to file reports.

It came to a head Wednesday when deputies arrested Smith, 32, accused of selling his duty gun to a pawnshop in New Port Richey and stealing drugs that had been brought in to be destroyed.

Smith told investigators he was prescribed morphine and oxycodone for chronic back pain. His dependence on painkillers spiraled into addiction that "knows no boundaries and crosses socioeconomic lines," Gualtieri said at a news conference.

"You've got a guy that has been destroyed because of his addiction,'' he said. "We can't make any mistake that this problem is still here."

Smith could not be reached Thursday for comment.

Investigators found that Smith stole at least three pill bottles with more than 300 pills, Gual­tieri said. In one case on Sept. 24, two people brought in a bottle of 100 hydrocodone pills prescribed to their deceased sister to the sheriff's Dunedin office. Smith put them in a plastic bag and into the back of his cruiser.

The Sheriff's Office was tipped off by a former girlfriend of Smith's, who reported that he had a prescription drug addiction and had told her he stole the pills, Gualtieri said.

Smith was fired and arrested on Wednesday. When he was asked to turn in his agency-issued equipment, Smith didn't have a Glock 30 .45-caliber pistol. When asked what happened to it, Smith said he sold it to Silver Dollar Pawn in New Port Richey for $250 because he was dealing with financial issues.

Smith faces charges of grand theft and possession of a controlled substance. Deputies booked him into the Pinellas County Jail about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday. He was released about 3 a.m. Thursday after posting $17,000 bail.

Gualtieri said Smith was hired at the Sheriff's Office on Oct. 12, 2012, from the Baker County Sheriff's Office. He was a patrol deputy until September 2013, when he was transferred to the narcotics unit. His issues at work started during his time there.

Smith's personnel file shows several disciplinary issues dating back to May 2013. He was given written counseling after two crashes in his cruiser that were deemed preventable. In one case from April 2014, Smith left his agency-issued shotgun in his cruiser while it was being serviced at a car dealership. In October 2015, he was handed a one-day suspension after failing to appear for an April 2015 deposition and not completing two witness statements.

Smith was transferred back to patrol and moved to the front desk spot, where his duties included taking reports over the phone, answering questions and taking in drugs to be destroyed from residents who bring them in, which Gualtieri said happens daily. "We encourage people to do it," he said. "It should end up in the right hands, not the wrong hands."

In January, Smith's supervisors met with him to find out if there were any personal issues affecting his work life. He told them that his divorce was almost finalized and that a parenting plan was completed. He also said a recent surgery resolved a health issue that made it difficult for him to lean over his laptop and type reports.

He didn't want counseling, he said. He felt his personal issues were almost resolved.

Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 445-4157 or Follow @kathrynvarn.

Pinellas deputy fired, accused of pawning duty gun, stealing prescription drugs 10/13/16 [Last modified: Thursday, October 13, 2016 9:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries


    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  2. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  3. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91


    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was …

    In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. [Associated Press]
  4. Mastermind of lottery rigging scam that netted millions faces 25 years


    DES MOINES, Iowa — For a decade, computer programmer Eddie Tipton reliably showed up for work at the central Iowa office of the Multi-State Lottery Association and earned the confidence of his co-workers, a team of technicians entrusted to build computers used to randomly pick numbers for some of the most popular …

    FILE - In this June 29, 2017, file photo, Eddie Tipton, the former Multi-State Lottery Association information security director who admitted to masterminding a scheme to rig lottery games that paid him and others $2 million from seven fixed jackpots in five states, is seen in court in Des Moines, Iowa. Tipton is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 22. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP, File) IADES501
  5. Pasco County man killed in wrong-way crash on New Jersey Turnpike


    MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Authorities say a Florida man driving the wrong way on the New Jersey Turnpike was killed when his SUV crashed head-on into another vehicle.