A longtime New Port Richey Police officer has been arrested on felony charges and is now under investigation.
John Nohejl, a 13-year veteran of the department, was off-duty when he was arrested by Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies Friday, according to New Port Richey Police Chief James Steffens. Nohejl was charged with trafficking in drugs, tampering with physical evidence, fleeing to elude police, possession of cocaine and two charges of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Nohejl has been on paid administrative leave since April 18, when Steffens ordered the first of two internal affairs investigations into Nohejl concerning allegations related to on-duty incidents.
Nohejl's last post at the department was master patrol officer.
Steffens said Nohejl was found asleep in his patrol car while at North Bay hospital. He also was again found asleep the morning after.
That investigation concluded on Nov. 9, and a few allegations against Nohejl were sustained. These were: sleeping on duty; unacceptable neglect in performing assigned duties; and engaging in any conduct on or off-duty which adversely affects the morale and efficiency of the department or which has a tendency to destroy public respect or confidence in the department or himself, according to a media release.
Nohejl was put on on 20-day suspension without pay.
Steffens ordered another internal affairs investigation Nov. 19, and that one is still active.
“Nohejl's arrest will result in the appropriate administrative actions being
take,” Steffens said in a media release. “He remains on Administrative Leave at this time and that status is subject to change at any time."
Steffens said his agency is working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Hernando County on the continued investigation into Nohejl's actions.
Nohejl was hired long before Steffens was. Nohejl has a long history of disciplinary action, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He was working as a school resource officer in 2008 when he was investigated after a MySpace page "he had set up to connect with students was linked to sexually oriented websites," according to the Tampa Bay Times. He was also accused of sexual battery on a female acquaintance at that job, but prosecutors didn't file charges.
He was accused that same year of sexual battery on a woman in his custody, and he was investigated, but the FDLE found the allegation to be unfounded.
When asked at a press conference whether Nohejl would wind up back on patrol again, Steffens responded, "That's not going to happen."
He said the department has a responsibility to its citizens.
"It's disgusting that I have to stand before you right now and speak about one of our officers committing felonies," he said.