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OFFICIAL AT DCF LINKED TO KID PORN

Police say the now-fired spokesman used teens for pornography.

The spokesman for the Department of Children and Families was arrested on child pornography charges Friday night, accused of soliciting two teen-agers to perform sex acts which he used to make child pornography.

Al Zimmerman, 40, who has worked for DCF since April 2005, was arrested in Lakeland and taken to the Hillsborough County Jail, where he was booked on eight counts of using a child in a sexual performance. Investigators say the victims were between the ages of 16 and 17.

Erin Geraghty of the Department of Children and Families said investigators believe that one victim was in the DCF system. She said there was the possibility of limited contact with minors as part of his job.

The arrest stemmed from a routine investigation started by the Tampa Police Department, said Sandi Copes, a spokeswoman for the Florida Attorney General's Office. She couldn't say when authorities first targeted Zimmerman but said the investigation had been going on for some time and could result in more charges.

DCF said Zimmerman's employment will be terminated immediately. News of his arrest prompted outrage from top state officials.

"The alleged actions of Mr. Zimmerman are a betrayal of trust to this department, its employees and the people we serve," DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth said in a statement.

He said he has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to work with DCF to investigate whether a child in the state's care was victimized.

Zimmerman most recently has worked out of Tallahassee, but his previous role at DCF was spokesman for District 13, which included Citrus, Hernando, Marion, Lake and Sumter counties.

Each count carries a penalty of up to 15 years. If he is prosecuted and convicted of all eight counts, he could be in prison for up to 120 years, according to investigators.

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