A 20-year member of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office was transferred out of the agency’s traffic unit recently, after it came to light that he had posted “malicious” comments about a fellow deputy on an online message board.
Cpl. Paul Boliek, 41, was verbally cautioned about the online postings and transferred to patrol in Golden Gate Estates, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Karie Partington said. The transfer, which occurred on June 17, was not a demotion.
“No, it’s lateral, and it’s not a disciplinary thing,” Partington said. “To stay where he was had the potential to be disruptive in the short term.”
On May 29, Boliek posted a comment on the online law enforcement message board LEOAffairs.com regarding the Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into a deadly crash involving the son of Dr. Ricardo Rivas.
Rivas is a local psychologist who has worked as a contract vendor with the agency for about 15 years. The headline on the entire thread of posts was “Conflict of Interest?”
Boliek identified himself by his agency identifier, t311, according to a memo from Lt. Harold Minch, who oversees the traffic unit.
“I do think that we should not be primary on the Rivas crash,” Boliek wrote. “Too many deputies have been to him either during their hiring process or later when they have problems at home and can’t figure things out on their own, that alone should preclude the agency from being number one.”
Boliek also made comments about the lead traffic homicide investigator on the case, Cpl. Karen Hebebrand, identifying her as KH.
“KH has some issues that she needs to work out,” Boliek wrote. “Maybe that’s why she is doing the Rivas crash, she might have a debt to pay. ... My crash knowledge is weak at best but shortly after I went to my one and only crash class I saw KH work a crash. That’s (sic) put it this way. One of my instructors spit coffee on me when I told him she was one of our thi’s (traffic homicide investigator).”
According to his memo, Minch learned about the comments when someone copied them and left them in his office.
Minch called Boliek’s comments “insulting, defaming, and ... malicious.” When Minch confronted him about the comments, Boliek admitted to writing them.
Minch requested that Boliek be transferred out of the unit, calling his comments “a public embarrassment for the entire agency.”
In a separate memo, Commander Bob Lewis recommended that Boliek be transferred to corrections, but also questioned whether termination was appropriate.
“To terminate his employment may seem retaliatory and corrective measures are not retaliatory, although termination is certainly within the realm of possibility based on the infractions listed,” Lewis wrote.
Boliek earns $76,985.74 a year, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
“They just reviewed all the circumstances and the (discipline and) appeals committee felt this was the appropriate action to take,” Partington said.
In his memo, Minch also called out another poster on the thread, identified only as “guestus,” who said he or she is in the traffic unit, made disparaging comments about Hebebrand and said the Rivas investigation is “a monster and our unit can not weather this approaching storm.”
“I have not identified the other individual involved,” Minch wrote, “and will not be conducting any type of witch hunt to find them.”
On June 5, the Sheriff’s Office released a new non-agency Web site policy that prohibits agency employees from posting “references to or about” the Sheriff’s Office, agency staff or agency information obtained in a member’s official capacity. Chief Greg Smith said at the time that the new policy was in the works at least three months before Boliek’s posts.
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Follow Collier cops reporter Ryan Mills on twitter.com/ndn_rmills.