Sheriff: Deputy resigns after encounters with prostitutes

11:51 PM, Feb 18, 2013   |    comments
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LARGO, Florida - Former Pinellas County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Johnson said he was just trying to help a woman. But Clearwater Police say the 42-year-old was actually trying to pick up a prostitute.

Those are just some of the details in the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office internal investigation into Johnson. He resigned Monday.

According to the six page report, he was observed by Clearwater Police slowly approaching the prostitute. They say he stopped his  vehicle and allowed her to get inside.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says, "He's on duty, you know, and he's spending on-duty time inappropriately in a female's apartment in Seminole, in inappropriate female contact, not doing his job."

But it's what happened at the corner of South Highland Avenue and Gulf to Bay Boulevard that stunned even law enforcement. Johnson reportedly dropped his kids off at school. He was off-duty and in his personal vehicle, according to Clearwater police. Sheriff Gualtieri adds, "His actions were consistent with someone looking to pick up a street prostitute." 

Clearwater police were watching the whole time. They say they watched as the prostitute stepped right into Johnson's deputy car.

Then the sheriff says there was another incident with a prostitute  who'd just been released from the Pinellas County Jail. This time, Johnson was on duty and in his marked cruiser, the sheriff says. 
 
Gualtieri adds, "And [he] put her in the front seat of the cruiser. And we don't put anybody in the front seat of a cruiser, And he was going to give her a ride home down to St. Pete. We don't do that."

But the sheriff says even more troubling is the fact that Johnson is a former narcotics detective. His ex- wife works for the sheriff's office in the jail as a deputy. She has a drug problem, he says, and was allegedly doctor shopping for prescription drugs.

Gualtieri adds, "She suspected that she might have been the subject of a criminal investigation by the sheriff's office. There was a criminal investigation, and she asked him to use his status as a deputy, a law enforcement deputy, to go into our database, our records management system, to let her know if our narcotics detectives were in fact conducting an investigation of her and he did that."

Johnson's ex-wife, Michelle Licavoli, still has her job. Johnson does not. The sheriff planned to terminate him on Monday, but Johnson beat him to the punch and resigned instead.

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