Fla. deputy accused of using innocent person’s license plate info to fake drug report

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida deputy was fired Tuesday after superiors accused him of trying to hide his “incompetence” by creating a fake drug report using information pulled from the license plate of a random vehicle parked at a Walmart store.

Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS cites a news release from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office accusing Deputy Joshua Sacino, 29, of finding a vehicle in a Walmart parking lot, running its plate and using the information to make a fake report connecting its owner to drug activity.

The sheriff’s office said the owner “had not actually done anything wrong or illegal.”

Sacino was facing heat from supervisors over inactivity during a March 30 shift when he was supposed to be focusing on traffic enforcement. Instead, the sheriff’s office accused him of sitting in his cruiser and surfing the Internet for more than four hours, according to a news release.

He reportedly lied about his activity, telling supervisors he gave a driver a verbal warning following a traffic stop, but ignored their requests for documentation.

The sheriff’s office then accuses of Sacino of driving to Walmart, running the vehicle’s plate and leaving, entering the fake report into the agency’s system, WFTS reports.

In the report, Sacino claimed that he found the vehicle after someone flagged him down about a suspicious vehicle involved in drug activity, the news release said.

WFTS reports that Sacino’s superiors questioned him about the report and admitted he made the entire thing up, according to the news release.

“Deputy Sacino did this for self-serving reasons, to conceal his lack of activity and incompetence, with no regard of the consequences this report could have had for the citizen involved, or for any citizen operating that vehicle in the future,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a statement sent to the station.

The report has since been deleted from the system, WFTS reports.

Sacino was hired by the department in 2017 and his termination was effective Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said.

About the Author:

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.