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Officer accused of hampering investigation

A Tampa police lieutenant has been put on administrative leave after he interfered with a state Alcohol and Tobacco investigation at a nightclub, an internal affairs investigation concluded Thursday.

Lt. Steve Jarrett, who has been with the Tampa Police Department for more than two decades, recognized state Alcohol and Tobacco agents who were at the club on Aug. 2 and alerted the owner to their presence, police records show.

A short time later he stood about three feet away from a man and woman engaged in sexual activity on a couch inside the nightclub, the records show.

It is the third time in his career that Jarrett, 40, has been disciplined after undercover investigators saw him in a nightclub.

He could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

"I know he did not want to be interviewed about this," Cole explained. "He's most embarrassed for his family and for the Police Department."

Top department officials, including Chief Bennie Holder, now will review the case to determine Jarrett's future. Jarrett, who had been working as a patrol shift commander before Thursday, has the right to appeal any findings of the investigation.

Cole could not say how long that process might take.

Jarrett, a popular officer who started working at the department as an identification technician in 1977, was partying in an unidentified "bottle club" in the early morning of Aug. 2, reports said.

About 12:20 a.m. he recognized at least one of four undercover agents with the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco who were there investigating reported liquor license violations.

Jarrett privately told the club's owner about the state investigators, saying he'd known one of the agents for years. An Alcohol and Tobacco agent who was at the nightclub told authorities he wasn't sure if Jarrett had compromised the investigation, reports said.

After dancing with one of the undercover agents, Jarrett walked to a part of the club that had pornographic movies playing on mounted television screens, reports said. There, agents saw Jarrett watch the couple on the couch for several minutes until an employee of the club ordered them to stop.

Jarrett, who has been married since 1984, state records show, was reprimanded by the Police Department in 1993 after a similar incident involving a Land O' Lakes "swingers" club.

Detectives saw Jarrett while conducting an investigation of the Full Moon Club, an establishment he frequented that catered to nudists, reports said. He was disciplined by the department after lying about how many times he had been there.

While an identification technician in 1979, Jarrett was reprimanded after he interfered with another undercover investigation. Jarrett told a woman he was dancing with in a Pasco County nightclub that another man in the club was a detective, reports said.