Sheriff Gualtieri: CareerSource forged my signature

- CareerSource's embattled leader found himself facing more troubling allegations Friday.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri accused the taxpayer-funded job-placement agency's CEO, Ed Peachey, of forging his signature.

The sheriff said the forgeries came to light while he was looking into his previous allegations, that CareerSource Pinellas falsely took credit for placing more than 600 people into jobs at his department.

Gualtieri said he identified two forms on which his own signature was forged, plus eight documents on which the signature of one of his human resources employees was also forged.

"What was extremely troubling to me when I saw the forms was that wasn't my signature. I never signed them. I'd never seen those forms before," the sheriff told FOX 13. "It is a situation where they have obviously grabbed our signatures electronically and forged those signatures and falsely put them on those forms." 

The 10 documents in questions allowed the sheriff's office to receive roughly $29,000 funds from CareerSource for job training costs.

"It's certainly wrong. It's improper. It's unethical. It's immoral. You don't forge somebody's signature," Gualtieri said. "One of the craziest parts about this, so if they're willing to forge my signature as the sheriff, they have no boundaries. Who else's signature did they not care about forging?"

Gualtieri said he's not yet sure if this amounts to a crime. Multiple state and federal investigations are underway to determine if any laws were broken.

Following a board meeting Friday, Peachy - the CEO of CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas - appeared to blame Sheriff Gualtieri for accepting the funds.

"I don't understand how there can be an agreement in place that they're producing invoices to us on and we're paying those invoices and then they're saying that they didn't sign the agreement. It makes no sense," Peachey told reporters.

Gualtieri called Peachey's explanation "a bunch of nonsense."

Peachey's two CareerSource branches came under fire last month after reports surfaced, accusing the agency of inaccurately reporting its job placement numbers by taking credit for hundreds of jobs for which the agency had no hand in finding workers.

A committee created by the CareerSource Pinellas' board is looking at whether the job placement numbers were inflated on purpose or due to a misinterpretation of state guidelines.

It's also unclear if the method used by Peachey's employees to report job placements is common across all CareerSource offices in Florida.

During their meeting Friday, committee members learned bigger numbers can lead to bonuses for CareerSource employees. 

Peachey said he came up with that incentive system. It's unclear, however, whether those numbers helped Peachey negotiate his salary of nearly $300,000.

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