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Mulieris in tiff with deputies

Published June 13, 2007

Commissioner Pat Mulieri called deputies "useless," but later admitted that they were right.

SHADY HILLS - An angry Pat Mulieri shook a lease in the face of a Pasco sheriff's deputy on Sunday.

The county commissioner called deputies "useless, " according to Sheriff's Office reports, because they could not throw out tenants who Mulieri said didn't belong on her rental property.

Then her husband, Jimmy Mulieri, threatened Pasco Sheriff Bob White's $94.7-million budget proposal. Deputies wrote down those threats:

"The Sheriff's Office wants $95-million dollars for his budget, " deputies said the commissioner's husband told them. "Let's see what happens now. Don't give them any money."

Jimmy Mulieri said it in front of his wife - who will have to vote on the sheriff's request to fund 109 new positions. Her husband, according to reports, said the Sheriff's Office was "not worth" the money.

"You guys aren't getting anything, " he told the deputies, the reports said.

For her part, Commissioner Mulieri said Tuesday: "evidently, those police officers don't like me a lot."

She denied calling the deputies useless - she was describing the lease, she said. She waived the papers in the air, she said, not in a deputy's face.

But did her 75-year-old husband threaten the sheriff's budget?

"That's exactly what he said, " Mulieri, 69, told the Times on Tuesday.

As for her upcoming vote on the sheriff's budget, the 13-year commissioner added: "I don't do everything my husband tells me."

She also acknowledged that she and her husband were wrong. The deputies were right.

The Pasco deputies tried to explain to the Mulieris, according to the reports, that they could not legally evict anyone until the landlords begin eviction proceedings through the courts.

"At that time, I felt that sheriff's deputies were not doing what I thought they should do, " Mulieri said Tuesday. "Afterward, I found they were right."

Husband Jimmy Mulieri could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

But on Sunday, the reports said, the deputies could not calm the wrath of the Mulieris.

The commissioner was "upset and angry, " the reports said, while her husband was "verbally abusive" toward the deputies.

The commissioner told them she "has never been rude to a deputy before."

Rudeness, according to the reports, helped spark the dispute between the Mulieris and three unwanted tenants: Jason and Jonathon Washington, both 22, and Joshua Commodore, 19.

The lease for the Mulieris' property on Marsh Road was signed by Karen Runyon, the reports said.

But Runyon, 53, said her daughter, granddaughter and daughter's husband were left homeless by a fire, so she let them move in. Her daughter's husband, Jason Washington, brought a brother and friend who were also left homeless.

But none of the men, who have lived there for six months now, were on the lease. So Jimmy Mulieri told them to leave on Sunday, the reports said. But the men were "verbally aggressive" and slammed the door in his face. That's when the landlord called deputies.

The deputies advised the Mulieris of what the law allowed, their reports said, but would ask the men to leave. The men said they had nowhere else to go. But they also said they needed a week to move their stuff.

The deputies told the Mulieris to start eviction proceedings just in case. None of the tenants could be reached for comment Tuesday.

The deputies consulted a supervising sergeant, who also spoke on the phone with the commissioner.

The sergeant said the deputies acted properly. So did sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll on Tuesday.

"Landlords cannot just, at a whim, evict people instantly, " Doll said.

It's a common misconception deputies often have to explain to landlords and tenants alike, Doll said. He said it's also not unheard of for residents to speak to deputies' supervisors.

Sheriff White has read the deputies' reports, the spokesman said, that detail Jimmy Mulieri's threats. But Doll could not say what the sheriff's reaction was.

Pat Mulieri said she'll begin eviction proceedings on Friday. As for her husband, the reports detail some other harsh utterances he made on Sunday.

Jimmy Mulieri urged his wife to "call the sheriff" and "don't waste your time with these guys, " according to the reports.

The reports also said Jimmy Mulieri directed a racial slur at the tenants.

Pat Mulieri said she doesn't remember her husband making any racial comments.

She admitted though that, yes, she was rude to the deputies.

"I'm apologizing to you and I've never been rude to a police officer, " she recalled telling them. "But I'm being rude to you today."

The commissioner also had this to say:

"I can tell you right now that I don't appreciate the Times doing a story to make it look like I would make a decision on the sheriff's budget because I could not get two deputies to do what I want."

Times staff researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report.

[Last modified June 12, 2007, 21:49:28]

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