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Pinellas detention deputies suspended over May escape attempt

Times staff

LARGO — Four Pinellas detention deputies have been disciplined for failing to prevent an attempted escape at the county jail in May.

Deputies Ginny Antolini and John Fitzgerald were suspended for eight hours, while Robert Ridgeway and Stephen Cox each received 40-hour suspensions without pay, says internal affairs investigations released Monday by the Sheriff's Office.

The investigation stemmed from the May 31 escape attempt of Jean Lafalaise, a Belle Glade man who had been sentenced to 30 years in prison a week earlier.

Lafalaise, 28, was able to pull a fence open and leave a recreation yard at the jail, but was caught after a deputy saw him trying to scale a perimeter fence, authorities said. The reports do not say if the deputy who saw him on the fence was one of those suspended.

Antolini and Fitzgerald were assigned to a housing unit at the time and Ridgeway and Cox were assigned to securing the recreation yard, the reports said.

Lafalaise had been sentenced May 25 as a habitual offender on various charges, including robbery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, grand theft and failure to appear.

He was at the jail awaiting transfer to a state prison.

In October, he was convicted on the escape charge and sentenced to 40 years to run concurrently with his other sentence. His scheduled release date: May 2050.

Pinellas detention deputies suspended over May escape attempt 11/22/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 22, 2010 11:05pm]
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