Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

One St. Petersburg officer fired, two others disciplined for taking gratuities

ST. PETERSBURG — One police officer was fired and two others were disciplined Thursday after an internal investigation revealed they routinely accepted items from a local convenience store without paying for them.

According to a memo from police Chief Chuck Harmon, the officers — Bayluss J. Earle, Bobby L. Johnson Jr. and Latoya R. Mathis — got groceries and other merchandise from the Obama Express, 1400 18th Ave. S.

Earle, 41, was fired. He had been with the department since March 2007. Johnson, 35, who became an officer in November 2008, got an employee notice, equivalent to a written warning. Mathis, 28, who has been an officer since October 2007, got both an employee notice and a 40-hour suspension.

A fourth officer, Nayo M. Sadiki, 28, was disciplined because she learned of another officer receiving free items, but failed to report it to a supervisor, the memo states. Sadiki, who has been with the department since June 2008, received a memorandum of counseling, a permanent written reprimand.

The officers told investigators it was routine for employees at the store not to accept payment from police officers.

"I think it's an embarrassment to the agency, and I'm extremely disappointed in those individuals," Harmon said. "I don't think it sends a good message to the community about our trust and integrity and how we police."

Mike Mahmoud, owner of the store, declined to comment to the St. Petersburg Times. He told investigators he authorizes his employees to treat officers with small items, and that he was disturbed by the investigation.

The investigation began in October when Sadiki overheard employees referring to Earle as "Sticky Fingers" and saying he was taking large amounts of free groceries. The employees said the manager was angry, but when Sadiki subsequently spoke with Mahmoud, he said he didn't want to report Earle, who he said only took what was given to him.

Though Sadiki told another officer about Earle, she failed to notify a supervisor. That other officer did, however, and the internal investigation began.

Earle admitted to accepting free drinks, candy, chips and deli food. Video footage confirmed this, the report states, and several employees also identified Earle as a frequent visitor to the store, sometimes as much as five days a week. At one point, an employee gave Earle a winning lottery ticket worth $200.

In her interviews with investigators, Sadiki said she also got things from the store, but would leave money on the counter when employees wouldn't accept payment. She denied knowing that other officers were getting free things.

The investigation revealed Mathis and Johnson also received complimentary items on multiple occasions from store employees who wouldn't take payment.

"Officer Johnson apologized," Harmon said. "He was the most candid and accepted responsibility for what happened."

Mathis, however, didn't view the gratuities as a policy violation and tried to minimize her actions, the memo states.

It goes against the officers' code of ethics to accept gratuities, Harmon said. Recruits recite the code of ethics daily in the police academy.

One St. Petersburg officer fired, two others disciplined for taking gratuities 02/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 4, 2010 11:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)

    Golf

    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.
  2. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  3. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  4. Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria heads back to the dugout after fouling out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first.
  5. White House signals acceptance of Russia sanctions bill

    National

    WASHINGTON — The White House indicated Sunday that President Donald Trump would accept new legislation imposing sanctions on Russia and curtailing his authority to lift them on his own, a striking turnaround after a broad revolt in Congress by lawmakers of both parties who distrusted his friendly approach to …

    President Donald Trump’s ability to lift sanctions against Russia would be blocked.