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Video may cost a job

At issue is whether an online appearance was over the line.

Published June 3, 2007


PINELLAS PARK - After considering their options, officials have decided to fire a city employee who appeared in two smutty videos on Bubba the Love Sponge's Web site.

The city suspended Thomas J. Parmentier for five days without pay Thursday. Parmentier, 38, of Wesley Chapel was earning $31, 484 as a utilities technician in the water maintenance department. Parmentier has worked for the city since April 1998. The suspension is the first step to firing Parmentier. A hearing that will give Parmentier a chance to defend himself is scheduled for Thursday.

Parmentier declined comment Friday. His attorney, Matt Farmer of Tampa, did not return a phone message asking for comment.

Pinellas Park officials found out about three weeks ago that Parmentier had appeared in three videos on the Bubba the Love Sponge Web site. One of the videos involved boxing blindfolded with another man.

The other two were more graphic and vulgar. In one, Parmentier is shown in a fishnet body stocking and black shorts being shot with pellets from a paint gun. He also undergoes other "tortures" involving his private parts. The other video shows him in close proximity to a partly naked individual. Portions of the videos are free to anyone who clicks onto the Web site, but viewers must pay $9.95 to see the entire show.

Pinellas Park officials struggled with the question of how much say they should have over legal activities an employee engages in while not on the job. In this case, officials decided they should have quite a lot of say about off-the-job conduct. They charged Parmentier with the firing offense of violating an employee rule prohibiting "immoral, unlawful, or improper conduct, or indecency either on or off the job, which would tend to affect the employee's relationship to the job, other workers, reputation or good will in the community."

City spokesman Tim Caddell said there was also some question whether Parmentier had misused leave time while the videos were made.

Caddell declined to comment further.

If Parmentier decides to fight the firing, he will have a chance at Thursday's hearing. The hearing, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the council workshop room on the second floor of City Hall, 5141 78th Ave. N.

No decision will be made at the hearing. After evidence is presented, a recommendation will be made to City Manager Mike Gustafson, who will ultimately decide Parmentier's fate.

[Last modified June 2, 2007, 19:29:21]

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