Hernando Sheriff looks to earn back public's trust after 5 deputies arrested

7:09 PM, Jan 28, 2014   |    comments
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Brooksville, Florida -- Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis has seen five of its own deputies arrested in the last six weeks and he says he's furious and disappointed in the deputies he trusted to not only uphold the law but obey it as well.

"I am so angry I could bite a nail in two sometimes," said Sheriff Nienhuis. "I am so disappointed in all of them because they took an oath with me. I am going to reconsider recommitting my deputies to their oath and I am planning to review our training."

On Monday, patrol deputy William Martinez, who has been with the sheriff's office since 1992, was arrested on battery and false imprisonment charges.

The woman told investigators Martinez offered to give her a ride back to her home after she was unable to drive her car following an accident on Jan. 23. 

The next day, she went into the sheriff's office and accused Martinez of inappropriate conduct and contact and provided them with DNA evidence which tested positive as Martinez's. 

"She was obviously in a position of vulnerability and the deputy took advantage of that and the battery charge shows there was unlawful touching," said Sheriff Nienhuis. 

The sheriff also said his investigators looked into the patrol car's tracking system which showed during the night in question, Martinez drove his car passed the woman's home and, several minutes later, dropped her off at her home.

"The deputy told a version of the story that was found to be totally untruthful," said Sheriff Nienhuis. "We gave him every opportunity to come forward, but he never admitted to what we charged him with."

On Tuesday, the day after his arrest, Martinez received a letter of termination which stated in part:

"Your recent immoral conduct and your inability to give truthful testimony have sacrificed your integrity and character. Your demonstration of deception and lack of judgment is in sharp contrast to the high standards of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office."

In December, two other deputies faced theft charges. Deputy Michael Glatfelter and Sgt. Joseph Reid were accused of stealing money from the sheriff's office and both resigned.

In mid-January, Joseph Tibor was arrested for driving under the influence by a state trooper.

And two weeks ago, Detention Deputy Cody Marrone was accused of burning a three-year-old boy's private area with a hair dryer. He was charged with aggravated assault on a child and child neglect. 

"I am so angry I could bite a nail in two sometimes," said Sheriff Nienhuis. "I am so disappointed in all of them because they took an oath with me. I am going to reconsider recommitting my deputies to their oath and I am planning to review our training." 

In the wake of the arrests, Sheriff Neinhuis said he wants to earn back the public's trust in the sheriff's office. 

"It's so hard on all the deputies here who do a great job every day and they know that these few deputies' behaviors reflect poorly on them," he said. "I am planning on this last arrest and termination to be the last issue my office has."

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