Oct. 31--TEQUESTA -- Tequesta's police chief Pete Pitocchelli has resigned, effective at the end of the year, a village spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Pitocchelli, 55, resigned his position Oct. 16, citing family and health reasons, and will leave the department Dec. 31, spokeswoman Lori McWilliams said.
Pitocchelli's resignation comes in the wake of a discrimination complaint filed last month by a village employee. Efforts to reach Pitocchelli by phone Tuesday evening were unsuccessful. Village manager Michael Couzzo declined to comment on whether Pitocchelli's resignation was connected to the complaint.
Pitocchelli was sworn in as chief on July 5, 2011 after being promoted from the rank of lieutenant. He replaced former chief Donald "Rick" Ricciardi, who retired after 45 years in law enforcement. Pitocchelli makes about $92,000 a year and oversees a 20-member police department.
Couzzo said that the village has already begun its search for a new chief and has received about 25 applications.
"We want to hire from the outside for this position," he said.
According to documents provided by the village, a dispatcher with the department filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations alleging that Pitocchelli harassed her at a party in March 2011, then denied her opportunities for employment advancement after his promotion to chief.
Dispatcher Tara Luscavich alleges that Pitocchelli touched her in an inappropriate manner during a party at a fellow officer's home, the complaint said. The complaint also alleges that Pitocchelli subsequently interfered with training opportunities for Luscavich, denied her rights and privileges of employment enjoyed by others, and retaliated against her for rejecting his advances.
Luscavich referred questions Tuesday evening to her attorney, Isidro Garcia of West Palm Beach. Garcia issued a brief statement confirming that Luscavich has filed a complaint against Pitocchelli as well as the discrimination charges with the EEOC and the FCHR.
The village issued a statement denying that Luscavich has been subjected to unlawful harassment or harassment based on her gender. The statement also denies that she was subjected to unlawful retaliation.
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