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Hernando deputy accused of assaulting wife will return to duty

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent will allow a deputy accused of assaulting his wife to return to duty, even though he said he is disappointed by the deputy's conduct and "poor judgment.''

In a memo, Nugent told Jeffrey Swartz, 34, that he had reviewed the internal affairs investigation of the Oct. 3 incident at Swartz's Spring Hill home in which the deputy got into an argument with his wife, Joyanna, that turned physical.

According to a sheriff's report, Swartz pushed his wife to the floor of their bedroom and placed his arms around her neck, but she broke free. He tried to restrain her by grabbing her arms, but she fended him off and called the Sheriff's Office for help, the report said.

Swartz was arrested on a count of misdemeanor domestic battery and was placed on administrative leave. Prosecutors later recommended that the charge be dropped.

The sheriff noted in his memo, dated Tuesday, that the investigation into whether Swartz violated the conduct-unbecoming policy was hampered by a lack of cooperation from Swartz's wife and his friends, who were at the deputy's home when the incident occurred.

According to a report by the State Attorney's Office, Swartz's wife had been drinking heavily that evening. Joyanna Swartz said "she got intoxicated and blew up and got out of control," the report said, adding, "She admitted that she had almost a complete blackout of the events."

During the evening, Swartz's wife reportedly became angry and despondent and wielded a butcher knife and a razor. Swartz said he grabbed her to prevent her from harming herself, and she later had trouble recounting the events of the evening.

The couple's friends told prosecutors that Joyanna Swartz had gotten "out of control" and that Swartz was merely trying to calm her down.

The report notes that Joyanna Swartz was clearly intoxicated during her 911 call and couldn't even recall her home phone number.

The photos of her injuries were "consistent with someone having tried to gain control" of her.

Nugent said in his memo to Swartz that he would not change the disposition of "unfounded" made by the internal affairs investigator and that Swartz would be returned promptly to duties as a sworn deputy.

But Nugent had stern words in his memo for Swartz, who has worked at the Sheriff's Office since April 2001.

"It is my opinion that the exercise of poor judgment on your part contributed directly to the incident at your home,'' he wrote. "Your statement that the event has resulted in embarrassment for both your family and this agency is correct.''

Hernando deputy accused of assaulting wife will return to duty 12/02/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 7:46pm]
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