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Officer facing discipline action

An off-duty Tampa police officer faces disciplinary action for confiscating a license tag from a car that was parked in his reserved space at his condominium complex, according to an internal affairs report released Tuesday. A.J. Matthews, 31, a nine-year veteran of the force, faces disciplinary action for not asking a uniformed officer to handle the case.

On April 28, Matthews came home to his condominium in south Tampa and found a car parked in his space.

He parked his Jeep behind the car, then went looking for the owner, Matthews told investigators. When he couldn't find the owner, he ran a check on the tag with the police dispatcher, who told him to confiscate the tag because the owner did not have insurance, the report said.

The car's owner, Ronald J. Schatzberg, 29, said he asked Matthews to move the Jeep, and Matthews told him he had confiscated the tag. Schatzberg said he told Matthews he had a valid insurance card, but Matthews refused to listen.

Schatzberg filed a complaint after he spent two days trying to find where Matthews had taken the tag. Matthews had told him to go to the wrong place, investigators determined.

In 1989, Matthews received a three-day suspension for conduct unbecoming an officer. He has been reprimanded for various policy violations. He also has received praise from the public and his department 25 times, according to his personnel file.