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More corrections workers demoted

The FDLE chief's son is among four penalized for a fight at a Jacksonville hotel.

Published March 9, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - Interim Secretary James R. McDonough has handed out another round of disciplinary demotions, this time to four corrections employees involved in a fight last May.

Among the demoted was Bradley Tunnell, son of Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Guy Tunnell.

Bradley Tunnell told investigators that, after being provoked by a slap, he punched a corrections officer sitting in the passenger seat of a truck.

Officer Ernest Shane Tharpe of Liberty Correctional Institution in Blountstown told investigators he was sucker-punched, and missed about 34 days of work while he had his jawbone wired back together.

"Let this be a reassurance to all department employees - we will not brutalize each other, nor will we dishonor our service with disorderly behavior," McDonough said in a prepared statement.

Correctional employees were in Jacksonville that weekend for a softball tournament. The fight took place in the parking lot of the Jacksonville Embassy Suites.

Tunnell was demoted from a correctional services consultant to correctional sentence specialist and will be transferred. Tharpe was suspended for 30 days without pay and transferred. Also demoted and transferred were Donnie Mayo, a correctional sergeant at Washington Correctional Institution, and James Scott Barton, a lieutenant at Charlotte Correctional Institution. All had been on administrative leave without pay since last week.

Last week, McDonough fired five longtime employees for their part in a fight occurring in April at the Florida National Guard armory in Tallahassee - basically everyone under investigation except Tunnell, who allegedly insulted officers after the fight. Investigators said there wasn't enough evidence to support charges against Tunnell in that incident.

[Last modified March 9, 2006, 02:45:12]

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