Ex-cop, reality TV star fired over porn film fights back

Ex-Hollywood officer Michael Verdugo has filed a lawsuit to keep his police certification after losing his job over a porn film.

Former Hollywood cop Mike Verdugo, fired after word spread on the Internet that he was in a gay porn film, is now fighting to keep his Florida police certification.

On Tuesday, Verdugo’s lawyers held a news conference and rally in Wilton Manor seeking support for him.

Hollywood Police Department fired him for not disclosing previous employment — the porn film — on his job application, Verdugo’s lawyers said.

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

Hollywood police spokesman Lt. Manny Marino said Tuesday his department would not comment on the Verdugo case.

Verdugo, 36, is appealing to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to allow him to remain a certified officer.

The FDLE tentatively agreed, but the city of Hollywood is fighting his request and wants him stripped of his certification, his lawyers said.

An FDLE hearing is scheduled Thursday in Tampa.

Hollywood has offered to drop its case against Verdugo if he “drops his case against them,” said Norm Kent, an attorney and longtime gay civil-rights activist.

Verdugo says he won’t: “I want my case to be an example of what happens in Florida.”

“I still want to be a cop,” he said. “My goal — not a practical one — is to go back to Hollywood.”

Regardless of how the FDLE hearing turns out, Verdugo says, he will continue to lobby for passage of a federal gay rights measure — the Employment Nondiscrimination Act — that would prevent gay and transgender people from being fired on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Hollywood police 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’s Design Star also dumped Verdugo, who was known as Mikey V.

Verdugo, who grew up in Hialeah, says he made the film for $700 at age 22 as a way of exploring his sexuality. He performed nude in a bondage scene, 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.

Wilton Manors attorney George Castrataro said he and Kent are representing Verdugo for free and that if any money is won in the case it will be donated to a gay charity.

“The power of the masses is in front of me,” Castrataro told the crowd of about 100 people Tuesday. “We have to rely on you.”


Original posting: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/11/1770446/hollywood-cop-fired-over-porn.html#ixzz0wlcMBhNj

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