Tampa Police DUI Sgt. Ray Fernandez was fired from the department Friday, Chief Jane Castor announced at a new conference.
Castor said Fernandez was misleading, lied, and allowed a personal friend to exploit his authority in the high-profile DUI arrest of Tampa attorney Phil Campbell.
Castor said the FBI investigation into Fernandez revealed a level of deception that required her to take immediate action.
Fernandez lied about his contact with Diaco and Diaco attorney Adam Filthaut after Campbell's arrest, Castor said, noting that he told her he "accidentally" deleted more than 90 text messages after the arrest.
"Any teenager with a smartphone can tell you this isn't possible," Castor said.
Castor said the evidence showed Fernandez lost his impartiality and professionalism in dealing with the arrest.
"I can't convey the level of disappointment I felt when the FBI investigation revealed that Sgt. Fernandez's role was significantly more than he conveyed to me, the organization, and to the entire criminal justice system," Castor added.
Fernandez's attorney, Chip Purcell, fired back immediately, saying his client wants his job back while denying the former officer is corrupt.
"He's very upset. He's very disappointed," Purcell said. "There is no evidence whatsoever to support any wrongdoing on Sgt. Fernandez's part. And, quite frankly, I am here today because I'm absolutely disgusted at this outcome."
The FBI investigation is still underway, and Castor said TPD is working closely with the FBI to cooperate with it.
Castor also announced that Officer Jeanette Hevel was fired after an investigation revelead she stole $1,900 worth of money orders from the TPD evidence room that had been seized in a tax fraud investigation.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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