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St. Petersburg firefighter resigns after arrest in child sex sting

ST. PETERSBURG — A St. Petersburg firefighter resigned over the weekend after he was arrested on charges that he tried to have sex with a child.

Jeremy Wert, 35, was arrested Wednesday during a weeklong undercover sting in Manatee County that brought in 43 suspects. The arrests were made after undercover deputies went online to lure people to a home in Manatee County. The people who came to the residence believed they were going to have sex with a child but instead were arrested by deputies.

Wert had been a St. Petersburg firefighter for 10 years. Fire Chief James Large called his record "exemplary," saying Wert had never been disciplined and was considered one of the agency's best firefighters.

"I'm embarrassed," Large said. "It's a black eye, but we are going to get through it."

The agency was notified of the arrest, Large said, but he was asked not act until Monday to avoid compromising the ongoing investigation.

Large had planned to fire Wert, but he resigned over the weekend, citing personal reasons. Wert, who was released from the Manatee County Jail on bail Thursday, could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

"Now we'll move on, continuing to show the public that they can count on their firefighters at St. Petersburg Fire Rescue," Large said.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Letitia Stein can be reached at lstein@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8330.

St. Petersburg firefighter resigns after arrest in child sex sting 09/17/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 8:21am]

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