Former Deputy Arrested Again, Capt. Resigns, Amid Allegations of Evidence Tampering
PASCO – Disturbing new developments in the arrest of former Pasco County Deputy Joseph Mercado, after officials say he’s been arrested again for tampering with evidence in an unrelated case.
Sheriff Nocco announced the new charge during a press conference this morning, and he also reported the resignation of a District 1 Captain who was found to be involved in covering up Mercado’s crime.
According to Nocco, after Mercado’s original arrest, complaints began coming in about other incidents involving Mercado. After looking back at a December 2017 case, it was revealed that Mercado was investigating an incident on Catalonia Drive and arrested a subject for possession of Methamphetamine. During a search of the suspect’s bag, Mercado located syringes and other paraphernalia associated with methamphetamine use. A neighbor’s surveillance camera captured Mercado throwing the bag over his fence during the investigation. The homeowner found the bag and immediately destroyed the drug evidence before giving it back to the suspect. As a convicted felon “trying to turn his life around,” says Sheriff Nocco, the homeowner reported the incident to the Sheriff’s Office.
It was later revealed through their investigation that Captain James Steffans covered up Mercado’s crime and has since resigned.
Nocco says, “As Sheriff I will not tolerate it, as Sheriff I am standing here, and as Sheriff I promise to every citizen out there, when you see a Pasco Sheriff you know there is trust and integrity.” Nocco alluded to the possibility of additional firings or charges as the investigation continues.
Nocco urges anyone who may have had dealings with former-Deputy Mercado or have complaints about cases involving Mercado to come forward.
RNRF broke the news of Mercado’s arrest on March 6th, after it was revealed that he allegedly committed a sex act and battered a woman back on February 15th. Mercado was subsequently arrested on February 28th and terminated from the Sheriff’s Office. (CLICK HERE FOR BREAKING REPORT)
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