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Pinellas deputy fired, accused of falsely linking person to drugs after being busted surfing internet

Investigators say he lied to his supervisors about what happened.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says it has fired a deputy who sat in his cruiser and surfed the internet for more than four hours while he was supposed to be doing traffic enforcement, then later fabricated a story about an innocent person and falsely linked that individual to drugs.

Investigators say 29-year-old Deputy Joshua Sacino initially lied to his boss after being assigned to a traffic enforcement initiative on March 30 near Seminole Boulevard. Authorities say Sacino claimed to have made one traffic stop and given a driver a "verbal warning" when he hadn't actually stopped any cars at all.

After being confronted about it by his bosses, the sheriff's office says Sacino went to Walmart, found a random car in the parking lot, ran the license plate and fabricated a police report – falsely accusing the owner of being involved in drug activity.

Investigators say Sacino "intentionally attached" the innocent car owner and the vehicle to a drug-related report that could have adversely impacted the innocent person's life. The sheriff's office said that report has since been delated from its database.

"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 Bob Gualtieri wrote in a statement.

The agency's Administrative Review Board reviewed the situation and found Sacino had violated his duties and responsibilities and committed conduct unbecoming of a deputy. Sheriff Gualtieri fired him on Tuesday.

Sacino had been with the sheriff's office since November 2017.

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