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Sheriff's Office upheaval lingers

A day after a command staff shake-up, a demoted major resigns. And a captain, who was on his way out, is back in.

More staffing changes at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office were announced Friday, with Maj. Paul Veslock resigning from the agency one day after Sheriff-elect Bob White said that Veslock would stay.

On Thursday, White announced that he would demote Veslock to the rank of captain in charge of the jail. Veslock was one of three people retained by White who were part of outgoing Sheriff Lee Cannon's command staff; nine others were fired.

Veslock, who was a major in charge of the county jail under outgoing Sheriff Lee Cannon, said Friday that White's decision to fire the majors and captains was "unconscionable" and that he didn't want to work in the new administration.

Veslock said he made his decision Thursday night, after White's transition team told several members of Cannon's command staff that their "services would no longer be needed" after Tuesday.

"I think we've done more damage to the fabric of the Sheriff's Office in one day than in the prior three administrations," said Veslock, who has worked at the agency for 24{ years.

White defeated Cannon, a two-term incumbent, in the Nov. 7 election. White's first day in office is Tuesday.

On Friday afternoon, White said that in place of Veslock, he will appoint Tom Hennessy as the captain in charge of corrections. Previously, Hennessy was a captain in charge of the uniform operations bureau. He has worked at the Pasco Sheriff's Office for 18 years. On Thursday, Hennessy was on a list of people that White said would not be reappointed to their positions.

White hired Michael Page, an employee of the state Department of Corrections, to be the major of the agency's jails. He will oversee Hennessy.

Veslock echoed other high-ranking administrators' comments when he expressed shock at White's decisions.

"The message was sugar-coated," Veslock said. "Everyone had what they thought were positive talks with the sheriff's staff."

White said on Thursday that he chose some members of Cannon's command staff because they shared his vision for the agency's future.

His changes resulted in whittling the command staff from 13 people to nine, and White said it will save the agency $200,000 to $300,000.

_ Tamara Lush is the police reporter in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6245. Her e-mail address is lushsptimes.com.

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