HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Embattled CareerSource CEO Ed Peachey left the door open Tuesday to a possible resignation or firing as a result of a swirling controversy over allegedly falsified job placement claims by the employment agencies he runs in Hillsborough and Pinellas, with $32 million a year in public tax money.
“We’ll be having these discussions tomorrow at the executive committee meeting,” Peachey told 8 On Your Side on Tuesday.
Peachey, who has been highly praised for his past performance, is now the focus of criticism from Tampa Bay to Tallahassee and Washington D.C.
State Senator Jeff Brandes called for his firing last week. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri called it a “scam.” Multiple state investigations are now looking into allegations of falsified job placement claims by the nonprofit agencies that Peachey oversees in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
At the request of Governor Rick Scott, the Executive Committee of CareerSource Pinellas has called an emergency meeting Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. to discuss the allegations that have resulted in investigations by the Inspector General of the Department of Economic Opportunity, a House Ethics and Public Integrity Committee and calls for a congressional investigation by Congressman Charlie Crist.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has become one of Peachey’s most vocal critics after learning CareerSource Pinellas claimed more than 600 job placements in his agency when there had been absolutely none.
“I’m disappointed,” Gualtieri said. ”I’m appalled by what was happening and I kind of feel duped by it.”
Sheriff Gualtieri told 8 On Your Side that FDLE agents have been in touch with his agency and didn’t rule out his own criminal investigation.
“We’ve been in communication with FDLE about this. They’re aware. Now they’re aware and I think we just need to let the Inspector General do this initial preliminary inquiry and see where that goes,” Gualtieri said.
“It’s something needs to be looked at. Whether we will do a criminal investigation or somebody else does if it’s warranted has yet to be determined, but it is something were working with the Inspector General on and we’re providing them information.”
Tuesday, Peachey joined a telephone conference call of CareerSource Finance Committee members. We asked Peachey how he could justify his two agencies’ claims of hundreds of job placements they had nothing to do with in Pinellas and Hillsborough.
“We’ll be discussing that tomorrow at the special meeting,” Peachey said.
Board members on that call promised a full and open discussion of the controversy at Wednesday’s emergency meeting.
“I think it’s very obvious we have issues to discuss,” said CareerSource Chairman-elect Jack Geller.
Peachey currently earns around $290,000 a year for running the job agencies in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. His future employment may hang in the balance of Wednesday’s CareerSource Executive Committee discussion.
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