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Pasco Sheriff's Office announces shuffle at the top

NEW PORT RICHEY — In less than two years, Jeremiah Hawkes has gone from being Pasco Sheriff Bob White's attorney to overseeing a large portion of the agency, plus earning a nearly 11 percent raise.

Hawkes' promotion is one of several announced this week in a restructuring of the agency to reshuffle duties of former Pasco Undersheriff Al Nienhuis, who began work as the Hernando County sheriff in January.

White decided to not fill the second-in-command position left vacant by Nienhuis.

Instead, he created two bureaus — the management services bureau, to be headed by Hawkes, and the joint operations bureau, to be headed by Capt. Chris Nocco, who will be promoted to major.

Neither Hawkes nor Nocco were available for interviews with the Times Tuesday.

Hawkes, 34, is former general counsel for the Florida House of Representatives under then-Speaker Marco Rubio and was part of a group of well-connected Republicans hired by the sheriff in 2009 — a group that included Nocco, 35, a former chief of staff at the Florida Highway Patrol and a Rubio aide.

Hawkes is the son of appellate judge Paul M. Hawkes, who stepped down as chief judge of the 1st District Court of Appeal a couple of months ago amid controversy over the "Taj Mahal" courthouse in Tallahassee.

In an interview with the Times when Jeremiah Hawkes was hired in 2009, White said he first met the young attorney during a business trip to Tallahassee a few years earlier. Hawkes was available for employment after Rubio's term as speaker ended.

"I asked him, I said, 'Do you want to come to Pasco County and be my general counsel?' " White recalled. "We had a meeting of the minds, and boom."

According to the Florida Bar, Hawkes graduated from the Florida State University College of Law in 2000. When he was hired at the Sheriff's Office, his salary was $85,696.

With the promotion, he will make $94,931 a year. As supervisor of the newly created management services bureau, Hawkes will be in charge of human resources, general counsel, the child protective investigative division, the fiscal unit, fleet and facilities maintenance, records, purchasing, information technology and property and evidence.

As White's general counsel, Hawkes oversaw two employees: The director of forfeiture and a legal assistant, said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll.

White is searching for a new general counsel to fill Hawkes' position. Doll said the sheriff estimates a savings of $18,000 of taxpayer money by not hiring a second-in-command: That's what's left over after deducting raises and a new general counsel's salary from Nienhuis' salary, which was $132,622 a year.

Doll said the sheriff has worked closely with Hawkes and Nocco and "is confident in their abilities. That's why they were promoted to those positions."

Nocco will oversee the joint operations bureau, which includes the agency support division and criminal investigations division — detective units, training, school resource officers, vice and narcotics and forensics. Nocco is getting a 10 percent raise, with his salary increasing from $92,323 to $101,681.

Professional standards inspector James Mallo, 41, will be promoted to captain and take Nocco's place supervising the agency support division. Mallo was hired in 2001. The agency support division includes communications, professional standards, citizen support services, civil process, data services and the agricultural unit.

There are no major changes to the detention bureau and patrol.

"We're not losing any road positions," Doll said.

In a news release this week, White said Pasco residents will see the same level of service.

"The people I have promoted have proven leadership abilities and I know they will continue to improve our agency," White said.

Times staff writer Molly Moorhead contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Pasco Sheriff's Office announces shuffle at the top 03/07/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 8:38pm]
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