By Kevin Deutsch
The law enforcement official overseeing the initial investigation into guns and ammunition found inside Somerset Parkland Academy tried to officially downgrade the crime and keep the incident hidden from the public, according to an internal investigation conducted by the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Capt. Craig Calavetta, who has since been terminated by BSO, “wanted the case to be handled ‘in-house’ by the Parkland District, which would include an information report with no public narrative,” according to a BSO Internal Affairs Investigative Report chronicling Calavetta’s misconduct.
Calavetta told detectives investigating the guns case to keep the details on the “down low” and to “keep this quiet” by writing up reports with vague or missing language, the internal investigation found.
The captain also “attempted previous coverups” in criminal cases, BSO Internal Affairs investigators were told by Calavetta’s colleagues.
In one case, “Calavetta attempted to downgrade a burglary in Parkland because he did not want to tell the City Manager [Nancy Morando] that they had more burglaries in the city,” the investigators were told, according to the report.
The guns-in-school scandal began when former Somerset Parkland Academy Principal Geyler Castro illegally brought two guns and ammunition magazines into the school on June 2, then lied to investigators about the crime, court records allege.
Castro, 39, failed to tell deputies she brought the guns and ammo onto school grounds. Instead, the educator told deputies it must have been the school staff members who unloaded her car who mistakenly brought the items inside.
Bringing guns illegally onto school grounds is a felony-level crime under state law.
Castro, of Miramar, is charged with two counts of possessing a firearm on school property and one count of culpable negligence. She was reassigned from her principal’s job in August and has pleaded not guilty.
The morning of the crime, the two firearms were concealed in a pouch-type bag and discovered by the school’s activities director, Kaitlene Alonso, inside school conference room 100C at the academy at 8401 N. University Dr.
The weapons were a black Beretta 380 Cal semi-automatic pistol and a silver Jimenez Arms 380 Cal semi-automatic pistol. Two loaded ammunition magazines were also found.
There was no lock on the pouch and no trigger lock on the firearms, which were easily reached and accessed by entering an unlocked door and unzipping the zipper on the pouch, BSO detectives said.
Shortly after the guns were discovered, BSO Deputy Krizia Somaza, the school resource officer at Somerset Parkland Academy, spoke with multiple school staff members, administrators, and Castro, who blamed school staff for taking the guns from inside her car and mistakenly bringing them inside.
When detectives arrived and began probing more deeply, they tried to determine whether criminal charges were warranted. In conversations with them, Calavetta downplayed the guns incident and seemed primarily concerned with whether the guns were legally possessed—a detail he felt would absolve BSO from certain reporting requirements, the records state.
“Calavetta asked [a detective] if the handguns were ‘okay,’ or not stolen, so he did not have to notify anyone about the incident,” investigators wrote.
“Calavetta wanted the report classified as an information report to keep it on the ‘down low,’ so people did not find out firearms were found on campus,” the Internal Affairs investigators were told.
One BSO detective, who believed the incident at the school was criminal, “also heard that Calavetta wanted the public narrative to be left blank,” the report states.
Separately, a BSO sergeant told investigators Calavetta “appeared very nervous” when he responded to the scene at the charter school.
According to the sergeant, “Calavetta stated, ‘Keep This Quiet,’ and that he did not want this getting out.”
“During that case conversation, Calavetta told him not to generate a public narrative or a staff event, which [the sergeant] interpreted as an order,” according to the report.
Calavetta had attempted previous coverups in the past, the sergeant told investigators.
“[The sergeant] specifically mentioned that Calavetta attempted to downgrade a robbery to a theft because the suspect was a doctor who resided in Parkland,” investigators wrote. “[The sergeant] then stated that Calavetta also attempted to downgrade a burglary because he did not want to tell the City Manager that they had more burglaries in the city. These incidents were not reclassified by [the sergeant] and remained the correct classification.”
A BSO lieutenant also spoke of Calavetta’s past coverup attempts, telling investigators: “This was not the first time Captain Calavetta had asked to cover something up.”
“He explained that sometime after being assigned to the Parkland District, there was an incident in which a surgeon was a suspect in a robbery and involved the surgeon getting into an altercation with a security guard,” according to the Internal Affairs report. “[The lieutenant] reported that during that incident, the surgeon grabbed her arm and forcefully took the security guard’s phone from her hands and destroyed the phone. [He] stated that the detectives began investigating the incident, which met the criteria for a strong-arm robbery. However…later that night, [he] was told…that Calavetta wanted to downgrade the incident to a theft with a battery.”
Calavetta told him that the robbery victim had previously been a domestic violence victim and was therefore “not a credible victim,” the report states.
Later, investigators wrote that Calavetta was seen trying to write an email to Morando to notify her of the security guard robbery.
“According to [the lieutenant], prior to typing the email, Calavetta stated, ‘I can’t believe I’m such a p—y, that I don’t want to notify the City Manager [Morando] about this.’ Despite his reluctance…Calavetta sent the email.”
Later, following a burglary at a Parkland construction site, Calavetta told his junior colleagues investigating the case “that Parkland City Officials did not like to see burglaries in the city; however, they were less concerned with thefts or grand thefts.”
“[The lieutenant] reported that he made it clear to Calavetta that the crimes would not be reclassified,” according to the BSO report.
Internal affairs investigators spoke with numerous BSO and Parkland city officials during their probe of the guns case, including Mayor Rich Walker, Morando, and city spokesman Todd DeAngelis.
They obtained an email written by DeAngelis to the mayor and commissioners about the guns case, stating, “this is strictly for your information and not for sharing with anyone,” according to the report.
“As is sometimes the case, secrets don’t keep,” wrote DeAngelis. “We cannot be sure who at the school is aware of this and how the information might spread.”
He then supplied a stock answer to provide if any of the officials were asked about the case.
In another email uncovered by investigators, Calavetta said of DeAngelis’ email: “I had this sent out by Todd, ‘just in case it got out.’”
At the end of their probe, internal affairs investigators found Calavetta violated BSO’s policies for Discretion, Conduct Unbecoming an Employee, and Meeting BSO Standards for Administrative Reporting.
BSO fired Calavetta in June, officials said.
- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.