A Pinellas County, Florida, deputy was disciplined for drunken misbehavior at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) conference in Fort Lauderdale.
The deputy, Michael Szelig, was attending a two-day-statewide training program in July and also was there to accept a MADD award for his work making more than 100 DWI arrests. However, he showed up at the event intoxicated.
According to a news report that referenced a 274-page Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office internal affairs investigation, one witness said he arrived staggeringly drunk at the Friday night banquet. This was the same banquet he was to receive his MADD award in front of a crowd of 200 guests.
The news report stated that Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent spotted Szeliga outside of the banquet and confronted Szeliga about his intoxication and told him not to attend. Disrespectful comments were made by Szeliga toward Vincent. Vincent found Szeliga’s supervisor who ordered him to his room and to not attend the banquet and not accept the award.
The incident began when Szeliga and the other deputies were on duty when they decided to skip the training and head to the pool. Some deputies went swimming, while Szeliga told investigators he drank Jameson cocktails. When the training was over, Szeliga told investigators he headed back to his room.
Later that evening, he was dressing for the awards banquet when a fire alarm sounded. The news report states that records indicate that a Pasco County sergeant who runs the DUI squad in that county reported seeing Szeliga in the hotel hallway wearing “nothing but boxer shorts.”
The officer stated that Szeliga’s eyes were glassy and his speech was slurred. Szeliga later told investigators he was not standing in the hallway in his boxer shorts and insisted he only stuck his head out of the door due to the fire alarm. Szeliga also denied being as drunk as witnesses claimed.
As punishment, the deputy received one day of paid suspension for violating the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office “Standard of Conduct” and had to write a letter of apology to Vincent.