Published Jun. 28|Updated Jun. 28
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has fired a deputy who they say made up a number of stories — including one in which he implicated an innocent person as being involved in drugs — to cover up the fact that he parked his car and surfed the web for four hours rather than do his job.
Deputy Joshua Sacino, 29, who had been hired by the agency in November 2017, was fired on Tuesday after an investigation found he had violated his duties and responsibilities and had committed acts that were unbecoming of members of the agency, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
Sheriff’s officials said that on March 30, Sacino was told to do “proactive initiatives focusing on traffic enforcement” in the area of Seminole Boulevard. Instead, Sacino “sat idle in his agency assigned patrol vehicle for over four hours surfing the internet,” the agency’s news release states.
Afterward, supervisors asked Sacino to hand over statistics showing his activity during that time. At first, Sacino told his supervisor that he had pulled over one car and had given the driver a warning. Sheriff’s officials said that was his first lie.
Sacino ignored a request by supervisors for case numbers and other information. However, in an effort to cover his tracks, he later drove to a Walmart, found a random vehicle in the parking lot and ran the license plate through his computer, the sheriff’s office said.
Sacino then fabricated a report and put it into the sheriff’s office report management system. The report falsely said that the vehicle’s owner “was involved in drug activity,” the news release states.
In addition, the report said that a transient person had flagged Sacino down about a suspicious vehicle and drug activity. Sacino said in the report that he then found the vehicle and confirmed the owner’s drug activity — all of which was made up, sheriff’s officials said.
Supervisors reviewed dispatch information and body camera footage and confronted Sacino, who then admitted that he had lied about everything that happened during that time.
“It is very serious, and it’s criminal grounds and grounds to be fired,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a statement. “It’s a serious matter. Deputy Sacino did this for self-serving reasons, to conceal his lack of activity and incompetence, with no regard of the consequences this report could have had for the citizen involved, or for any citizen operating that vehicle in the future.”
Sheriff’s officials said the owner of the vehicle that Sacino put into the computer system could have been adversely affected, but was not. The report has since been deleted from the agency’s system.