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Pasco deputy charged with sending photos of suicide victims to ex-girlfriend

NEW PORT RICHEY — A Pasco County sheriff's deputy was fired and is facing a felony charge after he sent his ex-girlfriend pictures of two people who had committed suicide, Sheriff Chris Nocco said Friday.

Austin Jeffrey Douglas, 29, is charged with being a custodian providing unauthorized photograph or video or audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a person, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Nocco said Douglas sent photos of a man who had shot himself in the head, as well as a man dead in a recliner, Nocco said.

"He sent these photographs from his cellphone to his ex-girlfriend's cellphone telling her how his weekend was going," investigators wrote in the affidavit.

The ex-girlfriend "was offended" by the photographs, according to the affidavit, and brought her phone to the internal affairs department of the Sheriff's Office. Detectives confirmed Douglas was at both scenes, and the former deputy eventually confessed to sending the photos.

Relatives of the people in the photos have not been notified, Nocco said, but "through the investigation, if there's any slight chance that this may be getting out there publicly, we will absolutely inform them," the sheriff said.

It's not uncommon for deputies to take photos of crime scenes, Nocco said, but all photos must be taken as part of the investigation. The photos Douglas took were for personal use, the sheriff said.

Douglas was suspended for 20 days last year after he started dating a woman he had met while placing her into medical custody under the Baker Act, Nocco said.

Douglas had worked for the Sheriff's Office since May 2006. He told investigators that "he sent the photographs because he was having a bad weekend," according to the affidavit.

Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or jsolomon@tampabay.com. Follow @josh_solomon15

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