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Decorated St. Petersburg officer faces child porn charges

The arrest comes after Homeland Security agents raided Officer Matthew Enhoffer’s home last week.
Homeland Security agents have arrested St. Petersburg police Officer Matthew Enhoffer, left, on child pornography charges. In this 2015 picture, he received the St. Petersburg Police Department's Medal of Valor for Enhoffer's actions in a shootout with an armed suspect that year. [Tampa Bay Times]
Homeland Security agents have arrested St. Petersburg police Officer Matthew Enhoffer, left, on child pornography charges. In this 2015 picture, he received the St. Petersburg Police Department's Medal of Valor for Enhoffer's actions in a shootout with an armed suspect that year. [Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 19, 2019
Updated Sep. 19, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer was arrested Thursday by Department of Homeland Security agents who said they discovered child pornography on his computer.

Officer Matthew Enhoffer, 33, is also accused of distributing pornographic images via text message, according to federal court records.

Following his arrest, the St. Petersburg Police Department placed Enhoffer on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the federal investigation. He had been placed on administrative leave with pay last week after federal agents raided his home on Sept. 11.

RELATED STORY: Homeland Security raids home of decorated St. Pete police officer

“It’s a shock for us at the police department," said police Chief Tony Holloway. "The community does put a lot of trust in us. We have to earn that trust back with them. We’re just going to continue to keep building a relationship with our community.”

In 2015, Holloway stood on stage and handed Enhoffer the department’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor. The award stemmed from a May 17, 2015, shootout officers had with an armed 18-year-old. The gunman shot at Enhoffer, then shot and wounded another officer in the leg.

St. Petersburg police Officer Matthew Enhoffer in 2015. [LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN | Tampa Bay Times]

The gunman fired at Enhoffer a second time, who then fired his shotgun at the 18-year-old, fatally wounding him.

“He was an officer that risked his life when it was needed,” the chief said, “but at the same time this allegation is very serious so we’re looking into that.”

The department is now reviewing Enhoffer’s cases to ensure they won’t be compromised by the allegations.

Federal agents received a tip on July 18 that a user with the screen name “thehoff727″ uploaded images to an unspecified social media site, according to Enhoffer’s criminal complaint. Investigators connected the IP address to Enhoffer.

After confirming the images on social media appeared to be child porn, federal agents executed a search warrant Sept. 11 at his St. Petersburg home. They seized his Apple MacBook Air and found more inappropriate images.

RELATED STORY: St. Pete officers recognized for valor, service after May shootings

Federal agents also found text messages sent between Enhoffer and a phone number with a Nevada area code that contained more images of child porn. The texts were sent July 17, the day before the tip was received.

Enhoffer worked as a patrol officer assigned to District 2, the east side of the city from downtown to the Gandy area. He was sworn in as an officer in May 2010, resigned in October 2013 to be closer to family then returned to the agency in January 2015. He made $34.33 an hour, which comes out to about $71,400 a year.

He faces federal charges of receipt and distribution of child pornography and possession of child pornography. It was not known where Enhoffer was being held on Thursday. Attorney Nicholas John Fiorentino, who court records say is representing Enhoffer, did not return a request for comment.

Enhoffer’s personnel file showed that supervisors gave him mostly average to high marks over the past few years. However, he also received a few below-average scores in the categories of verbal communications and knowledge of policies and procedures.

The department disciplined Enhoffer three times for discourtesy, according to his file. In one those incidents, he told the instructor of a 2017 training session at the Florida Holocaust Museum called “Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust” that it was “a f--king waste of time.”

His file also included several letters of commendation, including from a man who wrote that Enhoffer and another officer sent his family a condolence card after finding his daughter unresponsive in her home. A sergeant also nominated him for employee of the quarter in 2012.

“He has demonstrated an unselfish willingness to dedicate himself to the police department," the sergeant wrote, "along with a strong personal commitment towards the community in which he serves and its residents.”

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