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St. Petersburg police sergeant keeps his job after DUI, but loses his stripes

He pleaded no contest to the charge in court. Now the police department has demoted him to officer.
St. Petersburg police Sgt. Lesandro Santiago was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence on Dec. 22. He resolved the criminal case and was demoted to officer by the department. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office] [LANGSTON TAYLOR | Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
Published Aug. 26
Updated Aug. 27

ST. PETERSBURG ― A police sergeant who was arrested for driving under the influence in December will keep his job ― but not his rank.

Lesandro Santiago, 45, was demoted to officer, forbidden from imbibing any alcohol for five years and will be subject to random drug and alcohol testing for 18 months, the St. Petersburg Police Department announced Monday.

That was the punishment handed down by a command review board, which sustained complaints of conviction or guilt of a felony or a misdemeanor and conduct unbecoming an employee.

The demotion “means a substantial decrease in salary,” police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said, "the reason being we hold our supervisors to a higher standard.”

RELATED STORY: St. Petersburg Police officer charged with DUI, taken off patrol

Santiago was arrested on Dec. 22, when a sheriff’s deputy pulled over his personal vehicle on Fourth Street S, near 11th Avenue S, at about 3 a.m. Santiago was swerving between lanes, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

The criminal case was resolved June 20. Santiago pleaded no contest to the charge and was adjudicated guilty by a judge. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation, must attend a DUI educational class and complete 50 hours of community service in 10 months.

His driver’s license was also suspended for six months, but the agency said Santiago has a business permit that allows him to drive while performing his duties. He joined the agency in 2003.

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