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FDLE panel backs officer's suspension

A state agency that oversees sworn officers found that a Largo police officer who fixed a traffic ticket was disciplined appropriately.

Early this month, Largo police Chief Lester Aradi suspended officer Anthony Citrano for 10 days and removed him for a year from a promotion list for sergeant.

City Manager Mac Craig then suspended Aradi, saying the chief showed poor judgment because the discipline was too lenient according to city policies.

Tuesday, the Police Department received a letter from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It said the discipline Citrano received was within state penalty guidelines and that no further action would be taken by the state's Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission.

"It reaffirms in my mind what I did was right, and I can live with that," said Aradi, 57, who was serving his second day of a three-day suspension in Key West.

"I'm sitting back and reflecting on my entire career."

On Tuesday, Craig stood by his decision to suspend the chief.

"He didn't follow the city policy, nor his own policy," he said.

Citrano violated city and department conduct codes that explicitly require dismissal, he said. And Citrano's actions were especially serious, as he wrote a letter to the court falsely claiming a ticket was issued in error.

Aradi, however, maintains that the city's disciplinary guidelines are just that, guidelines, and the city's policies clearly state they're recommended penalties, not mandatory ones.

Citrano's case was forwarded to the commission after Largo completed an internal investigation and disciplined him.

The commission reviews disciplinary actions that deal with breaches of moral character, felonies or serious misdemeanors.

If discipline is not appropriate, the commission can administer additional penalties, ranging from intervention programs to the revocation of officers' certifications, said Heather Smith, FDLE spokeswoman.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.

FDLE panel backs officer's suspension 06/23/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 8:52pm]
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