The Bizarre World of Florida

Teacher pleads no contest to giving booze to teens in hotel room August 24, 2012

A Woodland Middle School teacher has resigned rather than be fired after pleading no contest to charges of giving alcohol to three teenagers, including two high-school students.

Woodland Middle School teacher Joseph T. Camara pleaded no contest to three counts of giving alcohol to a minor. He resigned rather than face termination.

Joseph Tiago Camara, 39, was arrested in June 2011 after a Sarasota County sheriff’s deputy found him partying with three boys at a hotel room on Siesta Key. Inside the room were bottles of rum and alcoholic energy drinks, an open condom and a glass pipe commonly used for smoking marijuana, according to an arrest report.

The boys, then aged between 15 and 16, told the deputy that Camara bought drinks for them for a going-away party for one boy who was leaving town.

Camara, 39, was charged with three counts of providing alcohol to minors and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A charge of possession of drug paraphernalia was later dropped. He was sentenced to six months probation, 50 hours of community service and was ordered to pay court fees, according to court documents.

The deputy entered the Siesta Beach Resort after a tip that a burglary suspect had been spotted there. The suspect, one of the three teenagers, was also arrested.

When asked why he was with the boys, Camara said he was a mentor to one of them.

The boys stated that their parents knew where they were. The deputy could only reach one set of parents, who told him they thought their son was staying with a friend and did not know about the hotel room.

Camara bought four bottles of Four Loko, an alcoholic energy drink, for the boys, according to the report. The glass pipe was found under the kitchen sink in the room.

The teenagers told the deputy that the condom was used as a water balloon and that no sex had taken place.

One of the boys attended Sarasota High School, another went to Sarasota County Technical Institute.

A special education teacher, Camara joined the district in 1997. He reported his arrest to the district in July 2011.

The district assigned him to the human resources department for the 2011-12 school year, said Scott Ferguson, district spokesman.

The Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association contested the district’s decision to terminate him. The union’s appeal was denied by Human Resources Executive Director Mike Jones and by School Board Attorney Art Hardy, according to district documents.


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