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Cop Goes On a Drinking Binge at Anti-Drunk Driving Event

A Florida police officer got "wasted" at a retreat that was paid for entirely by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and that was only the beginning of his debauched weekend.
Photo via Flickr user xlibber

Last July, Pinellas County Deputy Michael Szeliga packed a bottle of Jameson into his luggage, fired up his patrol car, and cruised down to the Pier 66 Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to spend the weekend getting wasted by the pool.

Fair enough. But Szeliga's attempt to just get away from it all was complicated by the fact that said weekend retreat was paid for entirely by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and that Szeliga was technically on duty and slated to receive an award for his police work from the anti-drunk driving organization. What ensued was a weekend of hijinx brought to you by Pinellas County's finest.


Upon his arrival at the MADD conference, Szeliga's colleagues suggested he duck out of the event because he was "staggering and reeked of alcohol," according to local news outlet WFLA. Records obtained by WFLA also suggest that "the deputy at the center of this controversy showed up at that MADD conference in Fort Lauderdale ready to party like he was on a college spring break."

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Deputy Szeliga, who was soon to be Detective Szeliga, decided that despite "mandatory" attendance required by MADD, the conference was not "relevant" to him, since he was no longer going to be a patrol officer.

Instead of heeding the advice of his superior and sobering up, he went back to his room and polished off the bottle Jameson he had brought in anticipation of the big weekend. From there, he decided to skip the two-day training altogether and play bean bags by the pool with a fellow officer who brought his own bottle of Crown Royal rye.

But the fun didn't end there.

Later that evening, in a scene out of a Police Academy movie, the fire alarm of the hotel was sounded, at which point the Pasco County sergeant in charge of the DUI squad reported seeing Szeliga in the hotel hallway wearing "nothing but boxer shorts," adding that "he was pretty drunk when I saw him," WFLA reported.

And now it looks like Szeliga, currently a detective, only got a slap on the wrist, and a light one at that. He ended up receiving only one day of paid suspension for violating the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office "Standard of Conduct" and pulling a weekend-long stunt that bordered on performance art.

"It was wrong, and again, one of the most ridiculous things I've heard of," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said after defending Szeliga's police work. "When I first heard about it, that was what my reaction was. 'Come on, you've got to be kidding me. Really?'" Well said, Sheriff.

But the folks at MADD weren't kidding when they realized that they had essentially paid for a police deputy's whiskey-fuelled weekend rager while they promoted the merits of drinking moderately.

"The plot thickens," former MADD director Tom Carey told WFLA after hearing new details of just how wasted Szeliga was. "It seems to be a lot worse than originally presented."