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Pasco Hernando workforce board suspends top two officials amid charges of financial mismanagement

NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco Hernando Jobs and Education Partnership Board has suspended its top two employees without pay while it does its own investigation into allegations the agency overpaid for workforce training.

Lee Ellzey, the president of the workforce group that administers Career Central, was accused of approving $123,000 in training costs for two companies owned by board chairman Steve Jensen.

The rate comes out to about $3,844 an hour, which was "extraordinarily high and deviated from established practice," according to the findings of an Inspector General's report issued this week.

The board placed Ellzey on unpaid leave Thursday, along with senior vice president Terry Williams, who "used his position to influence his subordinate to hire his father," the Inspector General found.

The workforce board receives federal funding to help local businesses train their employees. It also provides programs to help people find jobs.

The board's audit and executive committees will together conduct their own investigation into the charges of wrongdoing outlined in the Inspector General's report. The report says officials at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have also been briefed on the findings, and that agency is reviewing the matter as well.

Jensen, whose Port Richey companies Optima HVAC and Axon Technologies received the training at the heart of the controversy, did not attend Thursday's meeting.

Pasco Hernando workforce board suspends top two officials amid charges of financial mismanagement 06/11/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 12, 2009 10:34am]
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