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Police officer sues over job transfer

Published Sep. 10, 2005

A Tampa police detective transferred after being accused of secretly taping the telephone conversations of two prosecutors has filed a lawsuit against the city of Tampa and the Police Department.

Dale B. "Chip" DeBlock said he was moved from the criminal intelligence bureau to the family violence/sex crimes squad because he uncovered potentially incriminating information about an attorney employed by the city.

"This position (he was transferred to) is, and is widely considered by officers at the Tampa Police Department to be, a dead-end position and a form of punishment," the lawsuit said.

The suit says DeBlock suffers emotional pain, loss of enjoyment of life and will continue to lose pay and benefits. He wants compensation and his old job back.

Department officials could not be reached for comment.

DeBlock's problems began in October 1999 when outraged officials at the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office learned of his covert taping and demanded an internal investigation. DeBlock was investigating information that Buddy Gissendanner, an assistant city attorney hired to prosecute massage parlors and escort services, was protecting people in the adult industry from prosecution.

According to police records, DeBlock got a tip that Gissendanner was giving breaks to the owner of an adult business who was Gissendanner's good friend and a client of his wife, who is an attorney. DeBlock and Tampa police Officer Bret Bartlett began investigating. They reported their findings to their supervisor, Capt. Jane Castor.

"(DeBlock's) investigation involving the adult entertainment business revealed allegations of criminal or improper conduct by various public officials, employees or agents, including their alleged participation in the illicit lingerie business," the lawsuit said. The suit does not name any names.

DeBlock taped two conversations Gissendanner had with other prosecutors. Bartlett and DeBlock both said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents, who were asked to assist in the investigation, discussed taping the prosecutors, while FDLE officials denied knowing about it until afterward.

State Attorney Mark Ober said he's certain Gissendanner had done nothing to warrant investigation and added that his office would no longer use DeBlock as a witness in any criminal cases.

DeBlock, who was named Officer of the Month in October 1998 and consistently received above-average evaluations, was cleared of any criminal violations in taping the conversations. Tampa officials cleared him of any internal policy violations.