Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas sheriff: Two deputies accused of falsifying records

Two Pinellas County sheriff's deputies resigned Thursday amid allegations that they had falsified records related to two separate arrests, internal affairs records show.

If Deputies Chad Earl and Jesse Munoz-Calene had not resigned, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Monday, he would have fired them.

"My feelings about this with people who lie and engage in that kind of conduct is that they're done," he said. "They won't be working here — period."

Earl, 37, was among several deputies who responded to a house in an unincorporated area near Largo on April 11 to arrest a juvenile wanted for violating probation. When deputies arrived, a man, later identified as Nathan Smith, ran from the front yard and was Tasered by a deputy when he resisted arrest.

Deputies discovered several bags of cocaine and marijuana near Smith, 27, who was arrested on drug charges.

In his report, Earl wrote that Deputy Bryan Mitchell had seen Smith toss the bags out of his pocket. When Mitchell saw the report, he confronted Earl and said that statement was not true. Earl told him he needed to lie so that prosecutors would not drop the charges, according to records. The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office declined to pursue the case anyway.

In an interview with investigators, Earl admitted that his report "misrepresented the material facts," according to records.

In a separate incident also on April 11, Deputy Munoz-Calene arrested Mark Souder, 56, on a DUI charge after Souder was involved in a three-vehicle crash in Seminole.

Munoz-Calene, 26, later realized that he had not asked Souder the health-related questions on a field sobriety test form and falsified the answers, according to records.

Munoz-Calene, hired in May 2013, did not return a call from a reporter Monday. Earl, who spent 11 years at the Sheriff's Office, declined to comment.

After their resignations, Gualtieri sent an agency-wide email about the two cases.

"The ends never justify the means, and our job is to uphold the law," he wrote. "We do not fabricate evidence, make up suspect statements, or lie to cover for our missteps, errors or wrongdoing."

Contact Laura C. Morel at lmorel@tampabay.com or (727)445-4157. On Twitter: @lauracmorel.

Pinellas sheriff: Two deputies accused of falsifying records 08/04/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 5, 2014 8:14am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  2. Lego T-rex and scores of other brick sculptures free to see in Tampa

    News

    TAMPA — Envision the effort that went into building a basic Lego model with your kids. Now imagine arranging the same toys to look like the Mona Lisa or an 80,020-piece Tyrannosaurus rex.

    Eliana Goldberg, 5, of Wesley Chapel looks at a Lego sculpture called "Everlasting" at The Art of the Brick exhibit, which opened Friday in Tampa and runs through Sept. 4. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  3. Rick Scott signs medical marijuana, 37 other bills into law

    Blogs

    Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott
  4. St. Pete qualifying ends. Seven for mayor. Eight for District 6 on primary ballot

    Blogs

    The smiles of the faces of the workers in the City Clerk’s office said it all. The qualifying period for city elections was almost over.

    City Clerk Chan Srinivasa (2nd left) and Senior Deputy City Clerk  Cathy Davis (1st left) celebrate the end of qualifying period with colleagues on Friday afternoon
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.