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Hernando sheriff pulls deputies from nightclub

The sheriff won't allow off-duty officers to work at Planet Bubba because he says they weren't able to do their job.

By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 31, 2000


SPRING HILL -- Radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem has gained another Hernando County enemy.

Already the bane of neighbors of his Planet Bubba nightclub -- many complain they can't sleep because of the club's incessant noise -- Clem has incurred the wrath of the county's top law enforcement officer.

Sheriff Tom Mylander sent Clem and his business partner Richard Fabrizi a letter last week telling them he no longer would allow off-duty deputies to work at Planet Bubba, 7255 Forest Oaks Blvd. The reason: Clem and Fabrizi don't want to let the deputies do their jobs.

"My deputies remain law enforcement officers while working off-duty details and as such are required to address any and all violations of the law they observe being committed," Mylander wrote in a March 23 letter. "Your continued opposition to this indicates that your interest in having the deputies at your business is strictly for "window dressing' and for providing you with an answer to citizen complaints."

Mylander was in Tallahassee on Wednesday and unavailable for comment. Sheriff's spokeswoman Deanna Dammer said the letter was prompted by an event on March 22 but did not elaborate.

Early Saturday, Clem nearly got arrested in what appeared to be his response.

According to a sheriff's report, Clem and Fabrizi drove around in a white Mercedes-Benz videotaping deputies outside Planet Bubba as the deputies questioned two men. Warned not to interfere, Clem drove away but returned moments later.

He followed the men as they walked away from the sheriff's car, and the deputies followed. After driving a few more blocks, the officers and the DJ squared off, with Fabrizi reportedly taping the whole thing.

"Upon making contact with the occupants, the driver, Todd Clem, became belligerent with myself and Sgt. (Charles) Hinkle," deputy Harold Hutchinson wrote. "Mr. Clem shouted obscenities at us, asking us why we were "f------ with his establishment.' Mr. Clem would not give us the opportunity to speak with him due to his excessive verbal abuse."

In a separate report, Hinkle wrote that he did not recognize Clem or Fabrizi but warned the men not to get in the way of an investigation lest they be arrested for obstructing an officer. He then told Clem to get moving.

"Instead of leaving, he continued to curse at me," Hinkle wrote.

The two went back and forth, according to the report. Clem asked Hinkle whether it was against rules for Hinkle to be smoking in a squad car. Hinkle ordered Clem to get out of his Mercedes. Clem, who could not be reached for comment, refused.

"So I opened his door and asked him one last time if he understood that I would arrest him. He finally acknowledged my command, so I shut his door and told him to leave," Hinkle wrote. "At this time, he did so."

Hinkle wrote that he planned to confer with his supervisors about how to deal with troubles with Bubba in the future.

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