Tampa, Florida- The State of Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission has upheld the Settlement Agreement in the case of Mike Verdugo, the Hollywood Police officer who charged that he was unfairly terminated by the City of Hollywood. The decision provides that Verdugo retains his certification as a law enforcement officer in the State of Florida.
While an arbitrator has separately ruled the City of Hollywood lawfully terminated Verdugo’s tenure as a Hollywood cop for omitting on his employment application that he once performed in an adult film, the city had also sought in a separate proceeding, to strip Verdugo of his right to become a police officer anywhere else in the state.
Wilton Manors Attorney George Castrataro flew to Tampa to argue the city’s intervention was unlawful and the negotiated settlement agreement should stand. Late last night, he had filed written objections to the city of Hollywood’s inappropriate intervention into the settlement. He prevailed, as the Training Commission was unanimous in its affirmation of the agreement.
“It was an important victory and first step in vindicating Mikey,” Castrataro stated.
Added Castrataro’s co-counsel, Norm Kent, the publisher of South Florida Gay News, “Understand this. The city was seeking a pound of flesh. They were trying to force Mikey to drop his challenge to what we believe was an unjust ruling by an arbitrator. But Mikey stood his ground, and he has now prevailed. He is eligible to be hired by any other department if he so chooses.”
The State Standards and Training Commission had negotiated a stipulation, approved by the General Counsel for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) - which included a supervisory probationary sanction and an ethics course. But Verdugo held a press conference, attended by community leaders on Tuesday at the Pride Center at Equality Park, when it was discovered the city of Hollywood Police Department attempted to scuttle the agreement, filing a petition asking for Verdugo to lose his right to remain a cop in Florida.
“The city of Hollywood’s actions were wrong,” Castrataro stated, “and the Training Commission acted appropriately by rejecting their efforts and affirming Mikey’s rights.”
“We won,” Verdugo commented to the Miami Herald, “I am shocked, in a good way.”