Attorneys urge Pinellas County sheriff to wrap up investigations of deputy

Questions arise as probes enter 18th month

LARGO, Fla. - Five high profile Pinellas County attorneys have sent a stern letter to Sheriff Robert Gualtieri insisting he wrap up an investigation of a deputy.

Ongoing cases involving Deputy Paul Martin were first opened 17 months ago, leading those attorneys to demand that the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office finish up open cases.

 "You have a deputy, a rogue deputy who's doing what he wants," said attorney Jerry Theophilopoulos.

He's describing Paul Martin, a Pinellas County Sheriff's Deputy at the center of an ongoing criminal and internal affairs investigations attorneys say started more than a year ago.

"The public will not have confidence in the sheriff's department with people like Paul Martin out there doing what he's accused of doing," said Theophilopoulos.

Theophilopoulos, Chuck deVlaming, John Trevena, Bjorn Brunvan and William Hudson sent a letter to Sheriff Robert Gualtieri this week criticizing his investigations into Martin and other Pinellas County Deputies.

"There shouldn't be a double standard where the people he says he's protecting and serving are dealt with differently than the deputies who are working for him," said deVlaming.

Records obtained by the I-Team show that Martin has been suspended, reprimanded or counseled five times since 2006.

"We believe that the point system would indicate he should no longer have a badge and a gun," deVlaming said.

"He has been held accountable in the past, as he will be in the future, if it's determined there was wrongdoing," said Sheriff Gualtieri.

Records indicate Martin has been disciplined for domestic violence against his wife, for lying to his supervisors and sending nude photos to his girlfriend. Those photos were ultimately discovered by her 9 year old daughter.

The attorneys say the woman who received the nude photos of Martin is linked to the current investigation.

"We believe that she may have contacted him and requested that he obtain my client's confidential information," said deVlaming.

Martin is accused of improperly accessing a law enforcement database last year to get information for that woman to use in a family court case.

Earlier this year, Clearwater Police Lt. Richard Crean retired in lieu of termination after he was caught improperly using a law enforcement database.

Those who sent the letter believe the investigation is dragging on.

"It's over a year and we don't have any answers yet," said Theophilopoulos.

"I'm not gonna be pushed of bullied by people who think, when they have no clue what's happening, that just in their opinion, which is meaningless, it should be done faster. If it was their client, they wouldn't want a rush to judgment," said Gualtieri.

Gualtieri says one of the reasons the investigation is taking so long is that the person lodging complaints against Martin continues making new allegations, which need to be investigated.

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