The officer resigned, then took narcotics from the evidence room, a sheriff's spokesman says.
By MICHAEL SANDLER
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 2, 2001
TAMPA -- A few hours after he resigned as a Hillsborough County deputy, Christopher Madiedo walked into the Sheriff's Office evidence room Friday wearing a department jumpsuit and requested envelopes of narcotics from pending cases.
The transaction went so smoothly that he did the same thing Saturday evening, officials said. All told, Madiedo walked away with six envelopes containing small amounts of crack cocaine, powdered cocaine and marijuana from four cases.
But the guard's suspicion ultimately led to Madiedo's arrest late Saturday on multiple charges including impersonating an officer and evidence tampering. The arrest put a strange twist on a turbulent 5-year career that already included a shooting, a pending lawsuit, multiple suspensions and a bar fight.
"You get all sorts," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Rod Reder. "Everybody is going to take their own route as their career progresses."
Right before the most recent trouble, Madiedo, 26, submitted a two-paragraph letter of resignation Friday. He wrote that he gained valuable experience but decided to pursue other avenues. Madiedo left Friday in good standing with the department, Reder said.
"He had said he was going to resign, handed in his memos and did his exit interview on Friday," said Reder. "He was basically gone at that time. His past had nothing to do with (the voluntary resignation)."
Then came the evidence room visits Friday night and Saturday night, when Madiedo's resignation paperwork was still making its way through the system. The guard grew suspicious after the second visit and called a supervisor. Madiedo was summoned.
Another twist followed: Madiedo came in to surrender and hand over the stolen evidence, but he had replaced the marijuana with leaves and twigs, the crack cocaine with candle wax and the powdered cocaine with soap, deputies said.
Deputies later found 12 small bags of marijuana, a crack cocaine pipe, and a loaded .45-caliber pistol in his marked Sheriff's Office car, which had yet to be returned along with his badge.
Madiedo was arrested on six counts of tampering with evidence, two counts of impersonating a law enforcement officer, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine, possession of a firearm in commission of a felony, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was released from the Hillsborough County Jail after posting $30,000 bail Sunday.
A woman who answered the door at Madiedo's home declined to comment Sunday.
Investigators were uncertain of Madiedo's motive; he had not investigated the drug cases.
The cocaine taken over the weekend wasn't recovered, and Madiedo refused to submit to a drug test. "Of course, that's why we have more investigating to do," said Reder. "And because he is not talking or cooperating, it makes it that much harder for us."
Also, Reder said, the incidents have prompted an internal affairs examination of the department's system of signing out evidence.
"We are going to see if we have a personnel issue or a procedural problem," said Reder, relaying a statement from Sheriff Cal Henderson.
Madiedo became a deputy in 1996, and was named officer of the month in March and December of 1999.
But he has endured trouble, the most serious a 15-day suspension given in October 1998 after he shot an unarmed motorist twice in the back. Madiedo told investigators that the motorist, Howard Richmond, had tried to grab his gun after he pulled Richmond over for a traffic stop. Richmond and three witnesses, however, said Richmond was running away when he was shot.
Prosecutors later dropped charges against Richmond of marijuana possession, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest. He sued the Sheriff's Office. The case has not yet gone to trial.
Madiedo was suspended for three days after getting into a fight at the Tiny Tap Tavern while off duty on Dec. 2. Investigators said he had committed misdemeanor battery, misused his badge while consuming alcoholic beverages and lied about what happened.
Other disciplinary actions included a one-day suspension for failing to appear when subpoenaed and reprimands for not following procedure and for his involvement in a car accident.