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Deputy suspended for his day in court

A Hillsborough sheriff's deputy recently spent part of his workday testifying as an expert witness in traffic court. As an accident reconstruction specialist, Deputy Thomas Martinez knows about driving blunders.

The problem was that Martinez wasn't there in an official capacity, even though he was wearing his uniform, authorities say. He appeared in court in late August voluntarily on behalf of his son, who was charged with reckless driving.

Appearing in uniform was a violation of policy, says the sheriff's internal affairs office. After an investigation, Martinez was suspended for a day without pay for violating standard operating procedures and for misdirected action in an official investigation.

"Concerning the incident," Martinez told investigators, "all I did was simply testify with the knowledge that I've obtained since I've been here at the Sheriff's Office, on the request of my son."

Not quite, officials concluded.

"By wearing that uniform, you're saying the Sheriff's Office is standing here, not Tommy Martinez," one investigator told him during an interview, according to a transcript.

Martinez also flouted regulations by not logging out for the 2{ hours he spent at the courthouse. He got paid for the entire day, the report said.

Martinez, 44, has worked for the department for 23 years. Since 1990, officials have eight violations against him, including abuse, his personnel record shows.

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