GPS / Telematics

Kickback Scheme Revealed, Fleet Manager Resigns

November 02, 2009

BROOKSVILLE, FL - Jack Stepongzi, fleet manager for Hernando County since December 2007, resigned Oct. 30 after county officials learned he had been receiving payments from a county vendor, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

The Times reported the kickback was revealed after an alleged anonymous letter and a copy of an e-mail between Stepongzi and a representative of the Texas-based firm Vulocity that referenced his commission surfaced.

County Administrator David Hamilton ordered Stepongzi escorted from his office and his computer locked down for examination on Oct. 29. He also enlisted help from county audit services to begin an investigation.

Stepongzi resigned the following day after meeting with his lawyer, the Times reported.

Stepongzi did not deny receiving money from Vulocity, which produces global positioning systems that the county has bought to keep track of its workers. He said his only indiscretion was not revealing his business relationship with the company. Stepongzi received a 10-percent commission if he directed business its way, but said that didn't impact the price of the equipment for the county or cost the county taxpayer money.

According to Hernando Today, Stepongzi said he started receiving money in December 2008 and the payments continued through July 2009.

Stepongzi estimated that he collected a total commission of about $200 off the handful of units purchased. On the last few purchased, he got no commission because he let his contract with the company lapse, according to the Times.

Hamilton told the Times the county would forward its documents to the Sheriff's Office for a review for possible criminal charges.

Stepongzi was hired in December 2007 to help rebuild fleet operations after two scathing audits and the departure of the previous manager. Since that time, Hamilton said the auditors and county officials have been working to improve the department.

Hernando County has also made headlines this year for the fleet's high operating costs and going over its $10.3 million budget.

 

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