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Suspected of four offenses, the manager of a mobile home park for migrants is suspended for one of them.
By ANGELA MOORE
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 5, 2000
TAMPA -- After an eight-month Internal Affairs investigation, a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputy was suspended for three days because officials said he defied a direct order prohibiting him from visiting the mobile home park he managed in his uniform and patrol car.
Deputy Charles D. Maye, a 15-year veteran of the force, has an off-duty job as the landlord of Mi Amigo Mobile Home Park in Wimauma, renting 25 single-wide units to migrant workers.
The mobile homes, with plywood floors, broken screens and holes in the wall, are rented by large groups of migrant workers at hefty rates -- often more than $950 a month, say tenants and their advocates at the Good Samaritan Mission in Wimauma.
But even though the workers' advocates contend it's immoral to charge such exorbitant rents, it isn't illegal. Maye's supervisors at the Sheriff's Office knew about his off-duty job and told a St. Petersburg Times reporter in March that it was none of the newspaper's business what Maye charged.
What his supervisors were concerned about were allegations that Maye used his uniform and his gun to intimidate his tenants and may have used excessive force in dealing with one of his tenants who had been falsely accused in a shooting last November.
Stories in the Times in March underscored these allegations, and an Internal Affairs investigation was launched. Maye was suspected of failing to comply with the direct orders of a supervisor, improper use of his official position, using excessive force and failure to follow procedures. The results of the investigation were released last week, finding against Maye on only one count -- failing to comply with orders.
Those results dismayed Laura Cruz, a workers' advocate at the Good Samaritan Mission.
"That's unbelievable," Cruz said. "I feel so frustrated."
On March 9, Maye drove up to Mi Amigo park in his patrol car while he was on duty and ordered Cruz and a Times reporter to get off the property or be arrested for trespassing. The reporter and Cruz were there to talk to tenants about Maye's intimidation and abuse.
Only the day before, investigators said Maye's supervisors had ordered him never to go to the park while on duty or in uniform unless faced with a life-threatening situation. This violation led to his three-day suspension.
Before those events, the newspaper articles and subsequent investigations, it was common practice for Maye to show up at Mi Amigo park in his uniform, tenants say. They referred to their landlord as "La Policia."
Cruz said that Mi Amigo residents told her Maye never wears his uniform in the park anymore, but he still always has a gun tucked into the back of his waistband. And the tenants still say that their landlord is "La Policia."
"Every Friday, he collects the rent with the gun in the waistband, so that the people see it and they know," Cruz said. "They're afraid of him. He busts into the trailers whenever he wants, he screams at them. ... He's keeping his attitude. It doesn't matter that he's not in uniform."
Before the investigation, Maye often responded to calls at the park. On Nov. 20, 1999, he and other deputies investigated a shooting there. The evidence they gathered pointed to one of his tenants, Ancelmo Castillo-Badillo, as the suspected shooter. Maye and another officer stormed into Castillo's trailer to arrest him. That's when Castillo and his roommates claim Maye punched him and threw him to the ground, bruising his face badly and cutting his elbow.
No report was ever written because Castillo wasn't arrested. Witnesses told Maye moments later that Castillo wasn't the shooter, and he was released. In March, Cruz helped Castillo report the incident to HCSO Internal Affairs. In his interview with Internal Affairs detectives, Maye said that Castillo was resisting arrest and not obeying commands. "I wrestled him to the ground," Maye said. "I probably hit him in the ribs or kidneys with my hands, trying to get his hands out."
The detectives showed Maye a picture of Castillo taken 24 hours after the incident which shows his injuries. Maye said Castillo had no injuries when he released him. The detectives believed Maye.
"The detective asked me back then, "Why didn't you report this sooner?' " Cruz said Monday. "I told him that we felt they would do nothing to help, just cover it up. And after all this time, all this trouble, that's what they did. Nothing."