Pinellas Deputy Arrested After Mailing a Toy Bomb to Agency Lieutenant

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A patrol deputy has resigned after he admittedly mailed a toy bomb to a Sheriff’s Office lieutenant as a joke causing an evacuation at the Sheriff’s Administration Building.

The incident occurred at about 3 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Administration Building located at 10750 Ulmerton Road.

Deputy James Piper, age 59, has resigned after he admittedly mailed a toy bomb to a Sheriff’s Office lieutenant as a joke causing an evacuation at the Sheriff’s Administration Building.

According to investigators, Lieutenant Joseph Gerretz was in his office at the Sheriff’s Administration  Building when he received a package through interoffice mail.

Lieutenant Gerretz opened the box at his desk. The box was insulated with plastic packaging and contained a red cylinder shaped object with protruding wires. A handwritten note with the word “Boom” was included inside the package.

Upon opening the box, seeing the handwritten note and the wires, he immediately vacated his office and made notification of the potential threat.

Photo courtesy or PCSO

Portions of the Sheriff’s Administration Building were evacuated and a handler with a K-9 bomb detection dog was called to the scene. The K-9 did not alert to the suspicious package.

Members of the Tampa Police Department Bomb Team responded and confirmed that the device was not a threat. The device was determined to be a toy bomb.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri sent agency wide communications regarding the partial evacuations and that the device was not a threat.

After seeing the Sheriff’s communication regarding the suspicious device, Deputy James Piper immediately contacted his supervisor and informed him that he sent the package to the lieutenant as a joke.

The supervisor notified his chain of command. 

Deputy James Piper resigned effective immediately.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of former Deputy James Piper at about 4 p.m. on January 9, 2019, and charged with Planting a Hoax Bomb, a second degree felony.

Piper turned himself in to deputies at the Pinellas County Jail located at 14400 49th Street North, Clearwater.

Deputy James Piper was arrested and charged with Planting a Hoax Bomb

Piper was hired from 1982-2015 and rehired again on January 17, 2017 by the Sheriff’s Office.

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