Report: Hernando K-9 deputy abused position

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Just two weeks before K-9 Deputy John Gore was set to retire Col. Mike Maurer recommended the law enforcement veteran be fired.

A recently-completed Internal Affairs investigation found Gore sent sexually charged text messages and photos of his anatomy to a Pinellas County woman, and spent some 30 hours on the phone with her in just one month – most while on duty.

Gore, 52, did retire on May 1 with 25 years at the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office under his belt.

In an internal memo dated April 16, Col. Mike Maurer agreed that Gore has abused his position, broke rules on electronic communication and exhibited “unbecoming” conduct, and recommended to Sheriff Al Nienhuis that Gore be terminated. Gore had been on terminal leave since mid-March, and according to Public Information Officer Denise Moloney, Gore was not fired before retiring.

“This extensive and time consuming investigation reveals disturbing actions on the part of K-9 Deputy John Gore,” Maurer wrote, adding Gore showed “serious inattention to his duties and a disregard for the integrity and professionalism of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office received a complaint against Gore in September from a Tarpon Springs woman named Kimberly Carbonelli. In January 2012, Carbonelli had enlisted the help of Gore, who operates 2 Brothers Kennel in Brooksville, to train her German shepherd named Vypir. An affair eventually started and continued through the summer.

A synopsis from the internal report stated “Deputy John Gore and Ms. Carbonelli engaged in a personal relationship over several months and during that time, Deputy Gore spoke with Ms. Carbonelli for excessive periods of time while on duty, watched pornographic movies on his personal cell telephone, allowed Ms. Carbonelli to listen to him speak with suspects during traffic stops and sent Ms. Carbonelli inappropriate pictures.”

Cell phone records show that between April and May 2012, Gore sent Carbonelli more than 10 sexually explicit photos, many of which showed his genitals and green uniform pants. During that same time period, Gore alone placed 103 calls to Carbonelli’s phone, and spoke with her for nearly 30 hours. Just 22 of those calls were made while Gore was off-duty.

Perhaps the most damning allegation from Carbonelli was that Gore skimmed from marijuana and cocaine seized during vice and narcotic searches, transported the drugs in his patrol car and used those “real narcs” to train Vypir. Carbonelli said Gore used marijuana himself, and hid the stolen drugs in a “gallon size bag” in his home office. The sheriff’s office ultimately found the allegation unfounded through sworn testimony of other deputies and seized drug records.

Carbonelli said Gore sometimes trained her dog while in his uniform, and on sites the sheriff’s office uses to train their K-9 squad.

Gore admitted to sending photos and information relating to drug busts to Carbonelli, as well as speaking and texting her on duty. Gore said Carbonelli “requested” the photos of his genitals, and though he did send them, he never sent the exposed photos while on duty.

Both Gore and Carbonelli were in long-term relationships during the affair. Both claimed to have ended the affair. Carbonelli said she tried to make Gore mad by sending him text messages, accusing him of sleeping with her friend, because her husband might suspect an affair if Gore suddenly stopped working with Vypir. Carbonelli said her husband did find out, and threatened to divorce her if she didn’t report the information to the sheriff’s office.

Gore maintained the affair started with mutual flirting, and the understanding that neither would get emotionally attached. One of the last recorded text messages from Gore to Carbonelli said “(you’re) a risk to my career, you’re not going to be anymore!”

The internal affairs report includes pages and pages of the text messages between Gore and Carbonelli. Many are sexual in nature, and many reference masturbation and fantastical encounters between the two.

Ultimately, Carbonelli said Gore didn’t seem to be “trustworthy” or have the “morals and ethics needed for a law enforcement officer.”

Gore was making $48,007 a year at the time of his retirement. Moloney said Gore did not have any disciplinary issues other than a written reprimand for missing a K-9 demonstration in 2011.

Sheriff Al Nienhuis said he learned about the allegations against Gore shortly before the internal investigation started. Nienhuis said negative reports against deputies are nothing new, and he tries to not form an opinion until he knows the facts.

“This is a very serious issue,” Nienhuis said, and had Gore not resigned while under investigation, “termination would definitely have been on the table.”

Nienhuis said he wants the public to go the sheriff’s office does very extensive background checks before hiring deputies and staff.

“Unfortunately we do employ humans here and humans make mistakes,” Nienhuis said, adding sometimes mistakes are small and handled with disciplinary action, while others are big enough to require the relationship to end.