Pinellas deputy suspended after inmate attempts escape

LARGO — A Pinellas County Sheriff's Office detention deputy was suspended without pay after he left his transport van unsecured and an inmate tried to escape from the jail in July, an internal investigation released this week shows.

Deputy John Farzo served an 80-hour suspension in early and mid October for violating agency regulations, the report said.

According to the report, Farzo left his keys in the van July 5 while he was transporting 20-year-old Muhannad Hammad.

Hammad took the van and tried to drive out of the jail compound on 49th Street N, but was apprehended before he could breach the facility's gates.

Video of the incident shows Farzo jump into the passenger side of the van moments after Hammad got into the driver's seat.

Hammad threw the van into reverse and drove backward, in circles, as he struggled with Farzo. He was subdued after another deputy opened the driver's side door and deployed a Taser on him, the report said.

The report also said that on the same day, Farzo left an inmate unsupervised in his van for 15 to 20 minutes during a transport from a housing facility to the jail's medical facility. The suspension was handed down in regard to both July 5 incidents.

Hammad of 471 76th Ave. N, Apt. 3, St. Petersburg, was at the jail after a July 3 arrest on charges of retail theft, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. He is being held without bail at the jail.

Farzo has been with the Sheriff's Office since 1986 and makes $65,080 annually.

Pinellas deputy suspended after inmate attempts escape 10/29/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2009 2:28am]

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