NEW PORT RICHEY — Deputy Andrew Izrailov was in the middle of lunch May 31 when he got the call about a holdup at SunTrust Bank. But instead of dropping everything in pursuit of a possible bank robber, authorities say, Izrailov finished his meal at Starz Café — then headed to the bank 14 minutes after the call came in.
Although the call turned out to be a false alarm, Izrailov's delayed response that day and dozens of other allegations of misconduct cost him his job on Monday.
Izrailov, 36, a 12-year veteran of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, and Deputy Edward Tucker, 30, who had been with the agency for a decade, were fired after an internal affairs investigation found that the two were slow to respond to some calls, failed to take appropriate action when they arrived and falsified information when responding to calls and clearing them.
"When deputies commit egregious behavior, it's unacceptable to me, and I'm sure to the citizens we serve," said Sheriff Bob White said Tuesday, as the results of the investigation were released to the public.
Izrailov is accused of 39 counts of misconduct. They include 17 counts of failure to take suitable action, for deciding to go to the bathroom or grab a bite to eat instead of heading immediately to a call; four counts of endangering others or property, including his delayed responses to the bank hold-up and an alarm at an elementary school; and 18 counts of falsification of documents, in which he is accused of leaving a call but failing to note the time in the computer system.
Tucker is accused of 48 counts of misconduct. They include two counts of failure to take suitable action for his delayed response to calls; 45 counts of falsification of documents for failing to accurately log his time at the various calls; and one count of failure to exercise his duties and responsibilities for failing to take action at a call.
In some instances, authorities say, Tucker inaccurately recorded his whereabouts when he was supposed to be serving citizens with domestic violence injunctions.
Investigators say both deputies spent many hours at the Starz Café, even when they should have been handling other calls.
On May 30, for instance, investigators saw Tucker sitting in the cafe for 35 minutes when he was supposed to be on patrol.
According to a transcript of his statement to investigators, Tucker justified his time at the restaurant as a form of patrol.
"(If) the owner happens to have a break-in ... I count it as an 82 (directed patrol) because I'm keeping an eye out for him," Tucker said. "If you're sitting at a red light, it's an 82 because you're technically looking for speeders."
On May 31, investigators determined Izrailov had about 230 minutes — almost four hours — of "total estimated down time," between the time he spent at the cafe, his own home and another residence.
Citizens' complaints about the deputies' delayed response last year prompted a weeklong surveillance of their conduct, said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll. From May 26 to June 5, four members of the sheriff's office watched Izrailov and Tucker during their shifts.
After the six-month investigation ended in November, Doll said, the two deputies were notified that the agency was planning to discipline them. White reviewed their cases and fired them on Monday.
Among the investigation's findings:
• On May 27, Tucker never responded to a criminal mischief and burglary call he was dispatched to at 9:30 a.m. For an hour and 37 minutes, Tucker remained at a sheriff's office substation in Holiday. The call and report were handled by another deputy.
• On May 28, while he was supposed to be performing a welfare check, Tucker instead went to the cafe for 24 minutes. He told investigators he might have needed a bite to eat that morning because a new medication had unsettled his stomach.
• On May 27, Izrailov stayed at his subdivision for 19 minutes after telling dispatch he was headed to a burglary call.
• Twenty-three minutes after leaving the scene of a welfare check, Izrailov failed to notify dispatchers he was no longer at the scene. He went to a pawn shop and parked his car out front because "they have a lot of robbery threats."
Unlike Tucker, Izrailov didn't defend his actions to investigators.
"Every time I was surveilled, I was either in the bathroom at one of my houses or I was eating," he told investigators. "I didn't intend to falsify anything. It's just the way I've always done it since C.A.D. (Computer Aided Dispatch, the system deputies use to record, respond to and clear calls), came out in '96. That's the way everybody does it."
Izrailov's personnel file is a mixed bag.
During his career, he received letters of recognition, but also was suspended five times for offenses that include failure to follow general orders. In 2002, Izrailov was cleared of wrongdoing after fatally shooting a man he said pointed a revolver at him.
Tucker received a dozen letters of recognition, and was reprimanded once during his career for making inaccurate statements. Last year, Tucker wounded a man with his department-issued .40-caliber Glock after the man headed toward deputies with a knife.
On Tuesday, White said he had no choice but to fire the two deputies.
"I can't tolerate this type of behavior by my deputies," he said. "Rest assured I'm going to either coach them up, or coach them out."
Camille C. Spencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.