HOLLYWOOD

Ex-Hollywood cop in 1990s gay porn film can keep police certification

 

srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Mike Verdugo, the fired Hollywood officer who once appeared in a gay porn film, can keep his police certification, a 19-member state panel ruled Thursday.

``We won,'' Verdugo, 36, told The Miami Herald just after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement hearing in Tampa. ``They voted unanimously. We're done. My certification stands. I'm happy. Shocked -- in a good way.''

Hollywood Police Lt. Scott Pardon, a department spokesman, declined to comment on the FDLE ruling, which places Verdugo on a one-year probationary period and requires him to take a state-approved ethics-training course.

The Hollywood Police Department fired Verdugo last year for not disclosing previous employment -- the porn film -- on his job application, his lawyers said.

Verdugo, who also was a former Design Star contestant on HGTV, has sued to get his job back. The case is scheduled to be heard in November in Broward Circuit Court.

``Now this really puts the cards in Mikey's hand, the appeal of Mikey's arbitration,'' said Wilton Manors attorney George Castrataro, who is handling the case for free.

Castrataro said he believes the arbitrator in the case ``didn't have a strong comfort level at all with LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] issues.''

The case went to arbitration, and the department fired Verdugo after a 1996 video turned up online showing the future cop in a 15-minute bondage scene from a gay porn flick called Rope Rituals. HGTV also dumped Verdugo from Design Star, a reality program in which 12 home designers compete for their own TV show.

Verdugo, who grew up in Hialeah and was known on TV as Mikey V, says he made the film for $700 at age 22 as a way of exploring his sexuality.

He performed nude, but didn't engage in hard-core sex, he said.

Three years later, he decided to become a police officer.

Verdugo said it never occurred to him to put the movie on his résumé when he first became a Lauderhill cop in 1999 or when he applied to the Hollywood department two years later.

Read more Broward stories from the Miami Herald

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