Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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.

Prosecutor wrongly said Hernando sheriff's captain under investigation for stealing money 12/10/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 7:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera won't run for Congress


    Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has decided not to run for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat in Congress, though he may seek another office in 2020.

    Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.
  2. From the food editor: 'MasterChef' winner Shaun O'Neale talks cooking at Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival


    There are certain reliable signs that fall is on the way. Nothing in the weather department, of course, but other markers that usher in the celebratory final months of the year. One of those things is the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, which happens annually in Orlando, seemingly longer and more jam-packed …

    Chicken Wings with Sweet Potato Puree. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  3. Mike Evans stands behind Michael Bennett


    Bucs receiver Mike Evans was signing autographs for children after Bucs practice on Saturday. As he signed, he talked about Seattle defensive and former Buc Michael Bennett, who last Friday sat during the national anthem and who says he will continue to do so to fight racial injustice.

    Mike Evans, left, hauls in a pass in front of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.
  4. Man, I miss Planet Simeon


    Simeon Rice, right, works with Bucs defensive end Ryan Russell.