Pinellas News

Pinellas sheriff’s major fired over sexual relationship

LARGO — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri fired a major Thursday after having discovered the major was having an affair with the wife of a sergeant in his charge.

Gualtieri confronted Major Tim Pelella about the affair, and Pelella admitted it was true. The sergeant’s wife also works for the sheriff’s office.

“Major Pelella’s conduct is not only ethically bankrupt, it is in clear violation of agency policy,” Gualtieri wrote in an email to all agency personnel. “I have not and will not tolerate such reprehensible conduct by any agency members, especially a Major and member of the Command Staff.”

“I have stated many times that all members of this agency, regardless of rank or position, are accountable and responsible for their actions and this swift and definitive action is consistent with the level of accountability for someone in Major Pelella’s position,” Gualtieri wrote.

Gualtieri said he wrestled with the notion of letting people know why Pelella was being terminated “as it is not my intention or desire (to) embarrass anyone.

“However, the facts are what they are and a decision to terminate a Major is one that surely will get questions,” Gualtieri wrote. “It is important that we be straight forward and transparent and that you know the reasons for this decision from me and not through rumor or gossip.”

Gualtieri’s predecessor, Jim Coats, established an anti-adultery policy for agency members, and some employees have been punished for violating it. Since she works for the sheriff’s office, internal affairs investigators are expected to find out whether the sergeant’s wife violated the policy.

Pelella was the commander overseeing the patrol operations bureau. Capt. Glenn Luben will fill the position until a replacement is found, the sheriff said.