CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A veteran Pinellas County sheriff's deputy who was the target of a misconduct investigation is no longer a law enforcement officer. Deputy Michael Sciarrino abruptly resigned Monday morning.
The 10 News Investigators first reported on problems in the narcotics unit earlier this year, where deputies allegedly skirted the law to try and shut down grow houses.
Sciarrino was supposed to testify under oath Tuesday and that could have put him in the uncomfortable situation of either lying under oath or admitting he was involved in illegal acts.
As you may recall in our previous stories, we explained how the Pinellas narcotics unit was under fire for recording over a surveillance tape recorded by a drug suspect. Instead of Spanish TV, which was recorded on the machine, the drug suspect maintained it would have shown that the detectives illegally hopped a fence without a warrant to search for drugs.
In addition, several people in the narcotics unit ran into trouble for posing as Progress Energy employees, complete with hat and uniform, to conduct another drug surveillance operation on a man who had no drugs in his home.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says he wasn't surprised at all. "He showed up this morning and quit. No, it didn't surprise me because I know what is contained in the file and I know what the evidence is and given the circumstance, it didn't surprise me."
Sciarrino and other deputies were also accused of beating a drug informant at the Wing House on Ulmerton Road when the man decided he no longer wanted to be an informant.
According to Sheriff Gualtieri, Shciarrino spent last Friday reading thousands of pages of evidence the sheriff's office had on him in preparation for testimony scheduled for Tuesday.
Sciarrino could still face criminal charges.
The 13-year veteran will still be able to collect his approximately $22,000 a year pension for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, three other deputies who were transferred out of the narcotics unit are also scheduled to testify under oath and Gualtieri says he wouldn't be shocked if the other three deputies resigned as well.