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Deputy suspended for poor conduct

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 22, 2001

TAMPA -- A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy was suspended for 15 days after an internal investigation determined that he arrested and harassed a man because of a personal vendetta.

Investigators said Deputy Arturo Peralta acted with conduct unbecoming a member of the Sheriff's Office and left his assigned work area.

On Feb. 20, Peralta drove from his patrol area in the county around Carrollwood to the Crazy Buffet restaurant at 2702 N Dale Mabry Highway, inside city limits. He testified that his wife, Tammy Peralta, was eating lunch there and called him because she spotted William J. Guay, a man she hadn't seen in years.

Guay, the investigation revealed, was supposed to marry Mrs. Peralta's cousin years ago but backed out at the last minute. Deputy Peralta said in interviews that Guay used to abuse his wife's cousin and also took large quantities of money from their family. Peralta said he went to the restaurant to arrest Guay because he figured Guay would have outstanding arrest warrants.

Guay spent four years in Florida State Prison for grand theft and also has been charged with embezzlement and larceny in California and Michigan. But in February, there were no outstanding warrants. Guay's license was suspended, so Peralta tried to arrest him for driving with a suspended license but couldn't because he didn't actually see Guay drive to the restaurant.

In the end, Peralta had to let Guay go, but not before embarrassing him in front of potential investors in his financial planning company, Guay told investigators.

At first, based on the severity of the charges, Peralta faced dismissal from the Sheriff's Office. But after reviewing the evidence, Maj. Robert DeLuna recommended a 15-day suspension. Peralta returned to duty May 6.

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