Deputy suspended for violating Web policies
Officials say the deputy visited R-rated Web sites daily at work, for more than a month.
By KAMEEL STANLEY
Published June 19, 2007
A Pinellas County sheriff's deputy who was disciplined three years ago for allowing a murder suspect to escape is back on suspension for looking at inappropriate Web sites on the job.
An internal affairs investigation revealed that Deputy Robert Smithers, a 22-year jail employee, accessed several risque and R-rated sites from March 13 to April 17.
The Web sites were not pornographic but did contain several seminude photos of actresses and Playboy models.
As a result, Smithers is serving an 18-day suspension until June 25.
"Our policy is very clear, " said Marianne Pasha, public information officer. "It's very clear as to what you can't use it (the computer) for."
The 58-year-old deputy admitted to the behavior in a 10-minute interview on May 9.
"I don't have a good reason, " he told Cpl. Lisa O'Mara and Sgt. Michael Armsheimer, who conducted the investigation. "I have no excuse."
Smithers also told the investigators he had just learned in early March that his daughter had cancer and that he was "just trying to make myself think of something else."
A computer technician became suspicious in early April when he noticed a pattern of someone trying to access the Web sites, which are blocked by department filters.
Scott Kostreba, a senior network technician, noted in the report that it was "just a consistent daily thing when he was there, you know, 4:50 in the morning until 6, like clockwork."
Officials warned Smithers that this latest offense could have cost him his job.
In 2004, Smithers and two other deputies were given 15-day suspensions for letting murder suspect Timothy L. Humphrey escape.
Humphrey was on the loose for three hours, after Smithers failed to securely lock the inmate in a van while transporting him from the Hillsborough County Jail to the Pinellas County Jail.
During the interview, Armsheimer asked Smithers if he was ready to say goodbye to his job.
"No, sir, " he replied.
"I hope you're right, " Armsheimer said. "I hope they show some type of mercy on you if you convey that during the board."