Florida Deputy Michael Szeliga was hailed a hero for his work as a cop, particularly for making 100 DUI arrests in Pinellas County, that is until he showed up “staggeringly drunk” to a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) awards ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, where he was too “wasted” to receive an accolade for the DUI arrests he had made.
They don’t call it Fort Liquordale for nothing.
Besides receiving his award in front of a crowd of nearly 200 people, Deputy Szeliga was scheduled to attend a law enforcement DUI training that same weekend at a high-end hotel in Fort Lauderdale, paid for also by MADD.
He had packed a bottle of Jameson in his patrol car before arriving to hotel Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale and decided to opt out his DUI training “after the first break” to make other cocktails and “play corn hole in the courtyard” with other deputies who had skipped the training.
In a 274-page report that is part of an internal affairs investigation into Szeliga’s conduct, Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent said he saw Szeliga “staggeringly drunk” and reeking of booze.
“I thought, ‘Hmm, probably not the right place to be intoxicated,’” Vincent told WFTS.
Vincent said he told one of Szeliga’s supervisors that the honoree was totally “wasted” after Szeliga failed to take his advice of sobering up.
“I asked if he would tell me his name, and he said he wasn’t going to tell me his name and I said well you probably don’t want to be at a MADD awards banquet while you are intoxicated.”
Records also indicate that another supervisor later that evening saw “Deputy Szeliga wearing nothing but boxer shorts” during a fire alarm at the hotel.
“It was wrong,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told WFLA. “One of the most ridiculous things I have heard of.”
Still, Szeliga insists his colleagues are exaggerating how drunk he was during the event and that the training was no longer relevant for him to take due to his new role as detective in the crimes against children’s division.
Szeliga was suspended for one day without pay.