Ex-deputy, firefighter pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute
MANATEE -- A former Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputy terminated after his involvement in a steroids scandal and a firefighter have pled guilty to federal charges against them.
Thomas Peel and Wayne Faulkner each pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute anabolic steroids on Thursday, according to court documents.
Charges were filed in the U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida in Tampa by the U.S. Attorneys' Office on Wednesday.
Peel and Faulkner each face up to 10 years in prison, $500,000 in fines, two years of supervised release and a special assessment of $100.
By pleading guilty, both men have waived their right to be indicted by a grand jury, documents reveal. If the U.S. Attorneys' Office accepts the plea agreement, they are guaranteed no furthers charges will be field against them.
Peel was terminated Aug. 2 for conduct unbecoming as a result of his involvement with the steroids scandal.
Court records reveal how Faulkner and Peel were seen by investigators purchasing steroids from a confidential source.
On June 14, Faulkner met with the source in a Bradenton Walmart parking lot and gave him $460, a partial payment for an outstanding debt. On June 20, after saying he had collected money from some of the individuals he sold the steroids to, the two met again. Faulkner gave the source $500 toward his outstanding debt and said he was interested in purchasing more steroids for someone in Miami.
On July 22, Faulkner contacted the source and ordered 10 vials and two bottles of steroids. When the two later met, the source gave him the steroids requested and Faulkner gave him $500. As he was getting home, Faulkner was then approached by investigators and admitted he knew why they stopped him. Faulkner told them where the steroids were in his truck.
On July 31, Peel contacted the source to purchase six vials of steroids. The two met at the Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Sarasota, where Peel was handed the steroids and he gave the source $325.
Investigators then stopped Peel at the Sara Bay Club in Sarasota. A search of his patrol car uncovered the steroids inside of his lunch box.
Others have also been charged in the joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Manatee County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Charges against Andrew Cleveland, a personal trainer at Crunch Fitness in Sarasota, were filed on Oct. 2. On July 16, a confidential source who had dealt with Cleveland over the last six months had just sold him two vials of steroids two days prior.
On Aug. 1, investigators conducted a reverse undercover operation, where the source was given 42 vials of steroids for the transaction. Cleveland was then observed leaving the gym and discussing the transaction before taking the steroids to his car. Investigators then stopped him and found him in possession as he was grabbing $750 from his car.
Charges were also been filed against Aaron Larkin, of Bradenton, on Oct. 2. On Jan. 3, deputies responded to an abandoned 911 call at Larkin's home and observed marijuana in plain view. After further investigation, a subsequent search warrant uncovered 874.7 grams of marijuana, 24 marijuana plants, 162 vials of steroids, 12 bottles of steroid pills, 34 steroid pills, counterfeit money, drug paraphernalia and various documents.
A grand jury indictment that was once sealed charged James Sevier on June 30 with distribution and possession with the intent to distribute steroids.
Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.