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Sheriff's Office ends pair of investigations

Pasco County sheriff's officials said Friday that they have completed their investigations into two recent incidents involving corrections deputies.

The final result: three firings and two resignations.

The actions stem from separate incidents:

+ A scandal involving a Pasco-Hernando Community College law enforcement class where deputies were accused of falsifying attendance records. That resulted in three firings and a resignation.

+ Claims by a felon who has been accused of abusing corrections workers that a deputy was maintaining a relationship with him by sending letters and giving gifts to his family. That resulted in the deputy's resignation.

Sheriff's officials substantiated the allegations made by Brian Challis, 27, who is serving a 40-year sentence for shooting into an occupied dwelling and has been charged with attacking a bailiff and spitting on a probation official.

Corrections Deputy Sharon DeCosmo, 40, was found to have had a deputy-criminal relationship, sheriff's officials said. They did not release details of the investigation or the relationship.

DeCosmo's resignation letter on March 1 did not mention the investigation, which was ongoing at the time.

DeCosmo, who was hired 12 years ago, could not be reached for comment Friday. Her husband previously told the Times that she will not be able to comment for a while.

In the PHCC scandal, the information released Friday shows that three of the corrections deputies who were investigated have been cleared.

The complaints against Deputies William Rodgers, Neal McMinn and Jonathon McGuffin were found to be unsubstantiated, officials said.

Three other deputies in the class already had confirmed to the Times that they were fired. A fourth said he resigned.

The class, "Cross-Over to Law Enforcement," trained corrections deputies to become patrol deputies. Former Deputy Jason Tinnel, who resigned from the Sheriff's Office two weeks ago, said deputies were stretched thin by working full time and attending 20 hours of class each week. So some of them signed each other in for classes they did not attend, he said.

_ Ryan Davis is the police reporter in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is rdavissptimes.com.

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