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Sunday, Mar 29, 2015

County Vice and Narcotics chief resigns


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BROOKSVILLE - A newly promoted Vice and Narcotics Unit captain with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office resigned amid an Internal Affairs investigation alleging he was aware of and helped cover up thefts within the department.

The sheriff's office announced in December that a joint investigation by the sheriff's and local state attorney's offices found Cap. Thomas Garcia knew Sgt. Joseph Reid, 41, stole at least $1,500 in vice-issued money. The investigation also found Garcia used his own money to cover up Reid's theft, the sheriff's office said in December.

Garcia was not charged with a crime or disciplined by sheriff's investigators at that time, and he was placed on paid administrative leave, Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis said.

"There are obviously some major concerns about some policy violations," said Nienhuis. "Now that the criminal cases are winding down, we'll begin the internal administrative cases and take appropriate action based on what we find there."

The sheriff's office said Garcia chose to resign during the final stages of the Internal Affairs investigation, which was recently completed.

Nienhuis accepted Garcia's resignation Friday, according to the sheriff's office.

The sheriff's investigation concluded in December that Reid used the vice-issued currency for personal use as far back as June 2011.

Reid was charged in December with grand theft of more than $300 and less than $20,000, and if convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

Reid resigned in December immediately after being confronted with the allegations, the sheriff's office said, and his resignation letter stated he will receive about 172 hours of accrued pay at his current annual salary of $55,841 in exchange for a complete and unconditioned waiver of all rights and remedies.

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