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Deputy's behavior was investigated 4 times

Former Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Rickey Dawes, charged with leaking a list of targets in the Key Bank scandal, was investigated four times for using his deputy status to gain personal favors or intimidate associates.

Internal sheriff's reports include details of a 1988 confrontation with a supervisor in which Dawes is reported to have said, "You are now my enemy, and I'm gonna get you. And I'll tell you what, the last person I said (I) was gonna get, I got him."

In an unrelated incident in February, at a Tampa bar linked to organized crime, Dawes played a supporting role in a business partner's attempt to give an enemy a "Mafia kiss of death," according to internal affairs reports.

While Dawes did not threaten the man, the reports say, he appeared to back up his business partner, glaring at the man who was the target of the threats.

Dawes, 41, was suspended from the force for two days in the 1988 incident involving threats against a supervisor. No action was taken in the second case, reports say, because the incident could not be substantiated.

Neither Dawes nor his attorney, Manuel Lopez, could be reached Friday for comment.

Dawes faces charges of perjury and criminal disclosure in the Key Bank scandal. Authorities say he leaked a list of targets in the investigation to organized crime figures. He resigned from the Sheriff's Office on Aug. 20.

The former deputy remains a suspect in the unsolved 1982 murder of his father, George Dawes, who was found strangled, gagged and hogtied in the trunk of a Cadillac outside a Pasco County supermarket. Prosecutors in Pasco said the investigative murder file will be referred to the state and federal task force investigating Key Bank.

Rickey Dawes remained on the sheriff's staff despite the internal affairs file and the Pasco sheriff's investigation that led to him and his mother being questioned in the murder of George Dawes.

Hillsborough Sheriff Walter Heinrich said Dawes kept his job because he was a civil service employee and the department did not have grounds to dismiss him.

"In order to suspend them, you have to have reasonable grounds to take them before the civil service board. At the time of his resignation he was under an (internal affairs) investigation at my direction," Heinrich said.

A former chief deputy with the Pasco Sheriff's Office said earlier this week that Hillsborough officials refused to cooperate in the murder investigation. Hillsborough officials said they set up an interview between Dawes and Pasco detectives in 1982.

Hillsborough Capt. Richard Cipriano, a sergeant in charge of internal affairs at the time of the investigation, said he does not recall being told about possible connections between organized crime and the Dawes family.

Rickey Dawes told Pasco investigators the day after his father's body was found that his father had been a driver for organized crime figures and that Mrs. Dawes is the sister of a New York organized crime figure.

Shortly before his death, Dawes said, his father had talked about selling a horse trailer to a member of the Trafficante family in Tampa. Investigators think that Santo J. Trafficante III, charged with perjury and organized fraud in the Key Bank investigation, is a member of a Tampa crime family named for his late uncle.

In the February internal affairs report, which is laced with Mafia references, Dawes was alleged to have stood by as business partner Mickey Bazsuly made death threats toward a business associate. No action was taken against Dawes after an extensive internal investigation and the claims of the business associate were deemed unsubstantiated.

The incident allegedly happened at Brothers Lounge, 5401 W Kennedy Blvd., which at one time was headed by Vincent Lo Scalzo. Law enforcement officials said the Sicilian-born businessman has risen through the Trafficante crime family to gain control of the local crime syndicate.

Lo Scalzo bought the bar from two relatives of Frank Pupello, the former president of Key Bank who was charged Sept. 25 with 13 felonies relating to banking violations and fraud.

Dawes allegedly said during the Bazsuly incident, "Because I'm with the sheriff's department and because I know a lot of people, I can investigate things and turn IRS over, IRS files. I can cause his life to be miserable." Dawes later denied making those statements.

Also in Dawes' internal affairs file:

He was reprimanded for a February incident in which he misused his deputy status to help his girlfriend.

In 1990 he was given a written reprimand and forbidden to take his patrol car home for five days after a traffic accident.

He was given a written reprimand in 1988 after investigators said he used his official position to get a wrecker driver to tow his stuck personal car out of the ditch. He falsely claimed he was conducting a drug investigation..

He was suspended two days in 1988 for mocking his supervisor's religion, shouting at him, shaking his finger at the sergeant, then threatening "to get him."

_ Times staff writer Jeff Testerman contributed to this report.