Monday, May 21, 2018
Public safety

Prosecutor wrongly said Hernando sheriff's captain under investigation for stealing money

BROOKSVILLE — An assistant state attorney erred last week when he said in court that a Hernando sheriff's captain is suspected of stealing money.

The prosecutor, Matt Pila, was correct when he told a judge that Capt. Tom Garcia is on paid leave as the Sheriff's Office conducts a criminal investigation into its Vice and Narcotics Unit, said Assistant State Attorney Donald "Sonny" McCathran.

"But he is not under investigation for stealing money," said McCathran, who oversees the Brooksville office. "That part is not accurate."

The Sheriff's Office announced Nov. 27 that two employees had been placed on paid leave pending a criminal investigation involving the unit. It has not released any other details.

The Times reported Saturday that Garcia's identity was publicly confirmed during a Hernando Circuit Court hearing about a search warrant for a marijuana grow house.

A defense attorney asked a vice detective on the stand if Garcia was under investigation for "stealing money." The detective deferred to Pila, who said Garcia was under investigation. When the defense attorney asked if it was for "a crime involving dishonesty," Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr. asked Pila to confirm if "Garcia is under investigation for stealing money."

Pila said yes.

A Sheriff's Office lawyer called McCathran on Monday to say that was incorrect.

McCathran said the Sheriff's Office informed him of the investigation about the time it was launched. He said he relayed to the attorneys in his office the names of the two employees but didn't say who was being investigated for what.

McCathran said he plans to listen to a recording of the hearing and discuss it with Pila.

An 18-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, Garcia was promoted last month to captain and now oversees both the Vice and Major Case units. He could not be reached Tuesday.

Comments
A man punched a pregnant, deaf mother and her service dog on a plane ride to Florida, police say

A man punched a pregnant, deaf mother and her service dog on a plane ride to Florida, police say

A man is accused of attacking a deaf couple and their service dog while they were travelling on a plane headed toward Orlando.The incident happened as Matthew Silvay, 30, and Hazel Ramirez, 21, were on Frontier Flight 1752 as it left Colorado Springs...
Updated: 1 hour ago
New Port Richey man charged with sexual battery of 10-year-old

New Port Richey man charged with sexual battery of 10-year-old

PORT RICHEY — A New Port Richey man accused of sexually battering a 10-year-old girl last year was arrested Friday, according the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Elias Barreiro, 23, was charged with sexual battery on a child under 12, deputies said. D...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

PAHOA, Hawaii — White plumes of acid and extremely fine shards of glass billowed into the sky over Hawaii as molten rock from Kilauea volcano poured into the ocean, creating yet another hazard from an eruption that began more than two weeks ago. Auth...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Traffic lights restored at Pinellas Park intersection

Traffic lights restored at Pinellas Park intersection

PINELLAS PARK — Traffic lights have been restored at the intersection of 66th Street N and Park Boulevard, police said. About 5:45 p.m., Pinellas Park Police announced the outage. 
Updated: 8 hours ago
Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

SANTA FE, Texas — A 17-year-old student looking forward to celebrating his family's new swimming pool and a substitute teacher whose home frequently hosted family gatherings were among the 10 people killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high sch...
Published: 05/20/18
Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

TAMPA — After a botched burglary, a fleeing suspect jumped into a canal to escape deputies Saturday afternoon, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The person has not yet been identified. The suspect tried to break into a business on...
Published: 05/19/18
Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

HAVANA — The only three survivors of Cuba’s worst aviation disaster in three decades were clinging to life Saturday, a day after their passenger jet crashed in a fireball in Havana’s rural outskirts with 113 people on board. In the first official dea...
Published: 05/19/18
He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

Cosmo DiNardo declared "I am a savage no explanation needed" on social media seven months before police say he lured four young men to his family’s farm, shot them to death, ran one of them over with a backhoe and dumped three of their bodies in a pi...
Published: 05/19/18
Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies arrested an off-duty Largo firefighter found asleep at the wheel shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday.Patrol deputies saw a 2013 Dodge Dart, facing west and stopped in the intersection of Main Street and Bass Bou...
Published: 05/19/18
After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

Hours after Friday’s deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, bay area law enforcement officials pledged to beef up school security for the last remaining days of the school year.Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister held a news conference late Frid...
Published: 05/18/18