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Deputies will be punished over guns

TAMPA - Two Hillsborough County Jail deputies will be disciplined for carrying weapons - while off-duty in a bar - that they are not qualified to shoot, a sheriff's internal affairs sergeant said Wednesday. Sgt. Robert Spooner said it was not illegal for the deputies to carry the weapons, but it was against department policy for them to have guns that they have not been certified to carry.

Authorities have not decided how to discipline Deputy James Coniglio, who was carrying a .38-caliber semiautomatic handgun, and Deputy Brian Prescott, who was carrying a .38-caliber handgun with a 2-inch barrel.

The infractions came to light after a man who was arrested by the two deputies complained they used excessive force. Spooner said Gary Joe Willis, 31, was creating a disturbance in CC's, a bar on E Fletcher Avenue, on Dec. 19.

Coniglio and Prescott, along with two other off-duty jail deputies, Timothy Duggan and Jeffrey Smedley, offered to help the manager throw Willis out, Spooner said.

When they led Willis outside, he pulled a gun and ran. The four chased him and got into a scuffle. Duggan broke Willis' nose.

Investigators decided the deputies used appropriate force to detain Willis.

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