Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor fires two officers, one arrested

TAMPA BAY - Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor fired two officers on Friday.

The terminations were the result of two separate investigations, according to Castor.

DUI Sergeant Ray Fernandez was terminated; Detective Jeanette Hevel was fired and arrested.

Fernandez had been the focus of attention following the DUI arrest of an attorney involved in the Todd Schnitt-Bubba the Love Sponge defamation case.

In August, Tampa attorney John Fitzgibbons called into question the credibility of Fernandez and officer Timothy McGinnis.

Chief Castor established a DUI Review Team to look their over cases.

The panel began by reviewing all open cases involving officers Fernandez and McGinnis, approximately 34 cases in all, according to Castor.

Detective Jeanettte Hevel, who was officer of the year in 2003, turned herself in to Tampa Police detectives on grand theft charges at her attorney's office Friday.

According to the report, a Tampa Police officer recovered four IRS money orders while arresting a suspect on Possession of Marijuana charges on Nov. 15, 2011.

The officer followed standard operating procedures by placing the money orders into evidence. The money orders' value totaled $1,900.

The evidence log showed that on Dec. 7, 2011, Hevel entered the evidence room to "review evidence." She actually removed the money orders from the room.

On Dec. 20, 2011, Hevel cashed two of the money orders and received $1,000. On Dec. 21, 2011 she cashed the remaining two money orders for a total of $900. The money was deposited into her personal checking account.

On Monday, the Civil Recovery Division of IRS contacted the Tampa Police Department to try and locate the IRS money orders. At this point, Tampa Police discovered the theft and investigated the crime, which reveled Hevel's theft.

Hevel, who was on the force for 27 years, was fired then taken to Hillsborough County Jail.

TPD is now investigating every encounter Hevel has ever had with evidence in the property room.

Chip Purcell, an attorney for Fernandez, told ABC Action News he was stunned by his client's termination.

"I think that he was wrongfully terminated," said Purcell. "The complaint review board ruled in his favor."

Purcell said he plans to file a notice of objection to Fernandez's firing early next week.

The Tampa Police Benevolent Association also expressed their concern over Fernandez's termination.

"The city did not have just cause to terminate Ray Fernandez and we plan to file a grievance on his behalf. we are hoping his termination will be reversed through a grievance process or through an arbitrator," said Owen Kohler, general counsel for Tampa PBA. 

 

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