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Deputy is cited for false arrest

After hearing testimony that a Pinellas deputy has a history of abusing female suspects, a judge ruled that he illegally arrested a Tarpon Springs woman two years ago. In an order challenging the credibility of Pinellas County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Bailey, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Horace A. Andrews said the deputy had no reason to arrest the Tarpon Springs woman.

The judge's written ruling Tuesday gutted the case against Denise Ann Giallourakis, who was arrested Dec. 16, 1989, outside a lounge.

"Basically, the state's case is gone," Andrews said. "His (Bailey's credibility) was certainly damaged."

Pinellas prosecutor Richard Sheinis said he was reviewing the case before deciding whether to appeal the judge's ruling.

Prosecutors had charged Giallourakis with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest without violence, possession of paraphernalia and possession of cocaine after she was arrested. She was arrested with her sister, Diane Baratta, outside September's Lounge on U.S. 19. Both cases are pending.

"If the situation wasn't so tragic, it would be hilarious," said Giallourakis' attorney, Robert Merkle of Tampa. "He had no legitimate reason (to arrest Giallourakis) and the court so found."

Merkle said Giallourakis and her sister were arrested after Bailey confronted them as they were walking to their car. They told him they were on their way home and that Giallourakis' husband was recovering from open-heart surgery.

Merkle said Bailey went inside the lounge and asked the bartender if the women had caused any problems. The bartender said no, and Bailey went back outside. Merkle said in court records that he began harassing and shouting at Giallourakis.

When Giallourakis touched his arm during the confrontation, Merkle said, Bailey threw her to the ground, handcuffed her hands behind her back and shackled her ankles. Merkle said in court papers that Bailey dragged her across the ground by her hands and threw her over the hood of his police cruiser.

Later, deputies searched Giallourakis' car and found a pipe with traces of cocaine, prosecutors say.

Andrews said the search was illegal because Bailey should not have arrested Giallourakis in the first place.

"The deputy had no probable cause to arrest her for disorderly intoxication or for disorderly conduct," the judge said in his order. "He practically ... said so himself in his testimony on cross-examination."

During the hearings Friday and Monday, Merkle said he also presented several female witnesses who said Bailey had harassed them earlier.

He said one of the witnesses testified that Bailey fondled her after a traffic stop. Another woman, who called 911 because her husband was trying to enter her house, said Bailey shouted an obscenity at her when he arrived, Merkle said. He pointed a gun at her 16-year-old son and threatened to kill her dog, he said.

Bailey handcuffed her, slammed her against a fence and into a nail, the witness said. Merkle said the woman, who was recovering from surgery, began to bleed. In a third case, a Pinellas high school teacher said she was driving home when she saw two cruisers with their lights out blocking the road. When she tried to drive around the cars, Bailey screamed at the woman, Merkle said.

Merkle said more than a dozen residents have complained about Bailey in Pinellas County. Furthermore, he said Bailey was chastised in Pasco County, where he worked as a correctional officer before joining the Pinellas Sheriff's Department in 1986.

Bailey's attorney, Robert Paver, said the deputy is hardworking and dedicated and "often faces situations on the street where he has to make a split-second decision. . . . With respect to the allegations (of the women), our information is the complaints were either never substantiated or never formally filed."