PINELLAS COUNTY - A Pinellas County narcotics officer resigned Monday amid charges he broke the law when busting marijuana grow houses.
Mike Sciarrino, a 12-year veteran deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, is one of four narcotics detectives accused of falsifying evidence and lying in order to secure search warrants.
Allen Underwood's case is central to the internal investigation against them. Charged with manufacturing and trafficking marijuana, Underwood admitted he grew pot, but denied he ever sold it.
His attorney claims they could've proved it if PCSO hadn't illegally erased his home security system video.
"Several detectives in that department who are rogue detectives and they'll do whatever they can in order to get a result," said defense attorney Jerry Theophilopoulos. "It's that culture of corruption that's been cultivated in that department and it needs to come to an end."
Former PCSO Sheriff Everett Rice, who's now campaigning for his old job, calls the rogue detectives another piece of a corrupt puzzle, put together by Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
"It's just another example of a lack of leadership," Rice said. "It needs a change of leadership."
Gualtieri, however, points back to the same issue under Rice in the late 90s, when three detectives faced investigation, one for digging through trash on private property.
"This is not a rogue narcotics unit. This is not rampant throughout the sheriff's office. This happens from time to time in agencies," Sheriff Gualtieri said. "Said for political reasons to try and get political gain. It's flat out wrong."
Unlike the current investigation, Gualtieri says Rice's issue disappeared quickly because the detective in question resigned.
Rice, however, claims he fired the detective, but admits his memory is a little cloudy.
"Now, he might have quit," Rice said. "Might have been one of those situations where he said, 'You can't fire me, I quit."
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