By Elaine Allenemrich
North Port Sun
NORTH PORT, Fla. — Former North Port city commissioner David Garofalo has been placed on unpaid administrative leave from his job as a Pasco County Fire Rescue captain following his arrest last weekend.
Early Saturday morning, Garofalo, 36, and his girlfriend, also 36, were allegedly in a verbal and physical altercation outside of a Punta Gorda bar. According to a witness who called 911, she saw Garofalo sitting on the woman, who was screaming for help to get him off of her. The witness helped the woman up, and she and Garofalo got into a car and left, with the woman's daughter driving.
A 'be on the lookout' for the vehicle was sent to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office. The two were stopped by deputies and detained until a Punta Gorda police officer arrived to interview the couple about what happened. A police report shows both Garofalo and the woman were intoxicated. Garofalo had blood on his hand, a swollen lip, scratches on his neck and a torn jean pocket. According to the report, his injuries were 'consistent with defensive wounds.'
The woman was not hurt. Her story did not match the witness' description of what happened in the parking lot, the report shows. The woman said she fell and Garofalo was helping her up. Garofalo said the same thing.
Garofalo was arrested on a battery charge and taken to the Charlotte County Jail, where he was released after posting $10,000 bond. His next court date is Jan. 3 Because he was arrested, Garofalo was placed on leave without pay from his job, where he's worked since 1997.
Dominic Fariello, Garofalo's Tampa attorney to whom he has referred all calls, said the case is unfounded.
'He has been charged but not convicted,' Cynthia Holland, Pasco County assistant fire chief, said Thursday, adding if an employee is arrested, he must be evaluated by the personnel and risk management departments.
'He's not been suspended,' she said. 'He's been relieved of his duties until the evaluation comes back and he is cleared as fit for duty. It is standard procedure.'
Holland said the same thing happened after Garofalo was arrested in Indianapolis in May on a driving while intoxicated charge. After leaving a bar with the same woman he was with Saturday night, he flipped his car and was briefly trapped inside. The woman was not in the car with Garofalo at the time but saw the crash happen. The pair were in Indiana attending a funeral.
After the incident, Garofalo returned to work. He was not allowed on active duty in the field and given administrative work. He was to remain in that position until the outcome of the DWI case, expected to be heard in January. Further disciplinary action regarding his job may come pending the outcome of Garofalo's two cases, Holland said.
Garofalo served as a city commissioner for eight years as well as a city representative on several boards, including the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Copyright 2012 North Port Sun
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