7 deputy recruits fired for cheating on exams

Posted at 2:39 PM, Jan 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-25 19:04:57-05

Seven Pinellas County deputy recruits were terminated and a field training officer who authorities say provided them with the exam material resigned today after it was discovered that the recruits cheated on their agency exams.

The investigation began on Jan. 21 when supervisors from the patrol field training program suspected that the deputy recruits may have cheated on their Phase I FTO exams, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

It was determined that they received copies of the Field Training Phase I and Phase II written exams, as well as Phase I and II Oral Board exams.

The copies were the actual exams that they were tested on, according to the sheriff's office.

Several of the recruits received perfect scores on their Phase I exams, and planned to use them to cheat on their Phase II exams.

Some deputies, according to the sheriff's office, lied when questioned about the cheating issue.

"We have nothing in the law enforcement profession without our integrity, and there is no place for cheaters and liars in law enforcement and certainly not in the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office," said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri in a news release.

Field Training Deputy Eric Biddle, who improperly provided the exams to the recruits, resigned today. He had been with the agency since 2012.

The seven recruits terminated, and their hire dates:

Deputy Recruit Darold Cook
Hire Date: 11/09/2015

Deputy Recruit Julia Hopkins
Hire Date: 11/09/2015

Deputy Recruit Joshua Mason
Hire Date: 11/09/2015

Deputy Recruit Thomas McDonnell
Hire Date: 11/09/2015

Deputy Recruit Bruce Ramos
Hire Date: 11/09/2015

Deputy Recruit Diana Shoemaker
Hire Date: 11/09/2015

Deputy Recruit Michael Walker
Hire Date: 11/09/2015


Check back for updates to this story.