CEO keeps job while CareerSource Pinellas starts internal investigation of job placement claims

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Executive Committee of CareerSource Pinellas called for an internal investigation on Wednesday to determine if the agency wrongly took credit for hundreds of job placements it had nothing to do with under the leadership of embattled CEO Ed Peachey.

The committee wants a report from its attorney within seven to 10 days to answer questions that are now under investigation by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Inspector General, a state house committee and possibly Congress.

CareerSource Board member Pat Gerard, who also serves as a Pinellas County Commissioner, called for a temporary suspension with pay for Peachy while the internal investigation is underway.

“I feel you can’t do an impartial investigation when the person being accused is sitting in the office,” Gerard said.

Most other members of the executive board members balked at that suggestion. One of them said it sends the wrong message to the public to remove Peachey as CEO, even on a temporary basis.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has called the agency’s practice of falsely claiming credit for placing more than 600 workers in his agency a “scam” and said FDLE agents have been in touch with is office.

At Wednesday’s CareerSource meeting, an investigator from the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s office sat in the audience.

“We’ve been poking around a little bit into it,” said State Attorney Bernie McCabe. “We’ve been accumulating information to see if we want to go further.”

McCabe called it a ‘”preliminary inquiry.”

During a contentious and sometimes tense board meeting Wednesday, Peachy said he has no intention of stepping down voluntarily.

“Right now I feel like my obligation is to the CareerSource board and to my staff and right now we’re under a tremendous workload,” Peachey said. “I don’t think it would be in the best interest of either organization for me not to be there and be able to help them do this.”

After the meeting, CareerSource Pinellas President-elect Jack Geller, who, with Gerard, favored Peachey’s suspension with pay, promised a full accounting by the board.

“We need to get to the bottom of it and we need to own any mistakes that we’ve made and we need to correct them and correct them fast,” Geller said.

Governor Rick Scott’s Office issued a statement to News Channel 8:

“The Governor is surprised by the CareerSource Pinellas Board of Directors’ decision. He believes that the board should put taxpayers and jobs seekers first.” – McKinley Lewis, Deputy Communications Director

CareerSource Tampa Bay, which Peachey also heads, provides job services in Hillsborough County. That board has called its own emergency meeting for Friday.

Together, both agencies spend about $32 million a year in public money for job services under the leadership of Peachey.

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