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Fired PHCC instructor loses job at Polk Correctional Institution, too

Jeffrey Gattuso, the former law enforcement instructor fired last month for having a sex video on a classroom computer at Pasco-Hernando Community College, was fired this week from his job as a state prison guard.

According to his termination letter, his firing from Polk Correctional Institution had nothing to do with the scandal at the college.

Gattuso, a sergeant at Polk Correctional, was in command of the control room on April 9. During that shift, a state Department of Corrections spokeswoman said, he failed to reset the fence alarms and left areas unguarded.

His dismissal letter from Warden Ronnie Edwards also said Gattuso's record as a guard was taken into consideration.

Gattuso began working for the Corrections Department in 2000, first at Florida State Prison, then at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution. In 2002, according to the letter, he received a written reprimand for conduct unbecoming a public employee, and in 2007 was suspended for 10 days for negligence. Details of those incidents were not available Thursday.

As a sergeant at Polk, Gattuso earned $35,000 a year. His last day was Wednesday.

Gattuso, as a member of the security services labor union, has the right to appeal his firing from the prison or file a collective bargaining grievance before his termination becomes final.

Gattuso lost his other job — teaching part-time at PHCC's Law Enforcement Academy in Dade City — last month after a male cadet reported finding a video of a female cadet performing oral sex.

The video was attached to Gattuso's personal e-mail. The male cadet was using the classroom computer during a break.

Gattuso had apparently left his personal e-mail account logged on, a PHCC spokeswoman said, and an image from the video was on the screen.

The cadet recognized the woman as one of his classmates. He immediately forwarded it to another e-mail address, and about a week later told another instructor about it.

That instructor took him to the program coordinator, who then met with Gattuso. He was fired in that meeting on June 9.

College officials have not independently determined the identity of anyone in the video, nor do they know where it was filmed. They are investigating the incident.

Gattuso, 44, denied any wrongdoing, a college spokeswoman said. He could not be reached by the Times.

He had taught at the academy since 2006, and this spring was helping teach a course called Traffic Stops, earning $23 an hour.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office also is investigating a complaint from the instructor who reported Gattuso to their supervisor. The instructor said that on the day Gattuso was fired, he received a threatening text message from Gattuso saying something like "watch your back," according to PHCC.

Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said that investigation is ongoing.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Fired PHCC instructor loses job at Polk Correctional Institution, too 07/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 2, 2009 8:42pm]

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