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 [email protected] 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. Study: Florida has fourth-most competitive tax code

    Banking

    Florida's tax code is the fourth most competitive in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by nonprofit group Tax Foundation.

    Florida has the fourth-most competitive tax code, a study by the Tax Foundation said. Pictured is  Riley Holmes, III, H&R Block tax specialist, helping a client with their tax return in April. | [SCOTT KEELER, Times]
  2. A punter is the state's only first-team, midseason All-American

    Blogs

    Here's another indictment of how mediocre the state's college football season has become.

  3. Fred Ridley on the Road to Augusta

    Blogs

    Last week, I sat down with Fred Ridley, the new chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. Ridley, a lawyer who has resided in Tampa since 1981, was the 1975 U.S. Amateur champion and is the only Chairman to have played in the Masters. I wrote a long story on Ridley, but here are some of the other …

    Fred Ridley, looks on during the Green Jacket Ceremony during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament in April at Augusta National Golf Club.
  4. Tampa police link two shootings, tell Seminole Heights residents to avoid walking alone

    Crime

    TAMPA — One was a 22-year-old African American man. The other was a 32-year-old white woman.

    A small memorial sits in the grassy lot on East Orleans Avenue in Seminole Heights where 32-year-old Monica Hoffa's body was found Friday. Hoffa had been shot to death, and Tampa police say they believe her killing is related to the shooting death of Benjamin Edward Mitchell, 22, at a bus stop near N 15th Street and E Frierson Avenue on Oct. 9. There are no clear motives, however, and police have asked to residents to be on the lookout for anything suspicious and avoid traveling alone at night. JONATHAN CAPRIEL/Times staff
  5. Pinellas Sheriff deputies T. Festa, left, and J. Short, righ,t arrest suspect Christopher Parsells, Pinellas Park, early Tuesday as part of a joint roundup of unlicensed contractors. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]