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Deputy K-9 handler under investigation

Tony Holt Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 9, 2013 at 04:01 PM

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BROOKSVILLE He was clocked going 100 mph along the interstate and issued a summons.

After some phone calls, Cpl. Billy Martinez, a long-time K-9 handler for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, nearly got away scot-free, according to an Internal Affairs investigation.

After the agency caught wind of his ticket and his attempts to hide it, he was investigated and reprimanded, his supervisors said. Martinez was suspended for three days without pay and put on 30 days probation.

By next week, he could face stiffer punishment.

Martinez is under investigation again. Details of his allegations were not disclosed.

Sgt. Donna Black, a sheriff's spokeswoman, said she could not comment on the ongoing internal affairs investigation.

Col. Mike Maurer, who issued Martinez's punishment for the speeding ticket, said the current case might be concluded by next week.

He said Martinez "has been relieved of his K-9 duties" while the investigation continues.

On Sept. 26, 2010, Martinez was driving an unmarked, agency-issued vehicle to Nashville, Tenn., to attend a K-9 school, according to IA records.

While traveling through Adel, Ga., he was pulled over by a police officer and issued a summons.

Deputy John Gore was riding with Martinez when he was pulled over.

After Martinez was released, Gore told him he would need to report his speeding ticket to his supervisors, according to records.

Gore said Martinez shrugged and said nothing.

The sheriff's office learned of the ticket more than two months later. Lt. Cyrus Robinson, who conducted the IA investigation, stated the ticket had "100" circled on it and appeared "to have been changed to a warning sometime after the citation was issued."

In the end, the Adel police stated Martinez was going 84 mph in a 70 mph zone.

The arresting officer and his supervisor were contacted by the sheriff's office.

"(He) was vauge (sic) as to who called him and when asked if it was Martinez, he just said a phone call was made and he changed it to a warning," Robinson wrote following his conversation with the arresting officer.

Robinson also sated Martinez "took full responsibility" for the incident and testified he didn't realize he needed to report a traffic citation that ultimately would be dismissed.

Martinez, during his sworn testimony, told Robinson, "I didn't really think that (policy) pertained to a Uniform Traffic Citation.

"Um, what I was planning on doing was to, if I could not get the citation dismissed, I was going to notify the sheriff's office or my immediate supervisor and just make them aware that, ah, I did receive a Uniform Traffic Citation … ," Martinez said.

Martinez's allegation was sustained. He was found to have been in violation of two policies – not reporting an arrest to a supervisor and using his position as a law enforcement officer to avoid the consequences of an illegal act.

Maurer said Martinez "made several calls" to the Adel Police Department to have his summons dismissed.

Martinez said five times during his testimony he had received a traffic citation. Maurer said he was being dishonest.

"It is clearly not that," Maurer wrote. "It is clearly a summons to appear in court."

Martinez has been employed with the sheriff's office since October 1992.

"You have brought embarrassment to our agency and discredit to yourself," Maurer stated in his letter. "Your years of service and assignments have taught you better and you know the right procedures."

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