Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County fleet manager resigns over commission from vendor

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County's fleet manager resigned on Friday after county officials learned that he has been receiving payments from a vendor doing business with his office.

Jack Stepongzi was placed on administrative leave and escorted out of his office late Thursday. He told the St. Petersburg Times on Friday afternoon that after meeting with his lawyer, he resigned, effective immediately.

Stepongzi did not deny receiving money from the Texas-based firm 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 said he followed county policy in choosing to do business with Vulocity. He said he obtained the three quotes needed to award the contract, and Vulocity came in lowest.

But he admits it was a mistake not to disclose that his side business has affiliated marketing with a number of companies, including Vulocity.

His deal was a 10 percent commission if he directed business its way. But he said the county paid the same price for the equipment that anyone else would. His commission didn't make the product cost more.

"Did I cost the county taxpayer money? No,'' he said.

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.

The business relationship came to light through an anonymous letter and a copy of an e-mail between Stepongzi and a representative of the firm that referenced his commission.

"I'm not in front of your reseller agreement, but if my mind serves me, we were paying you 10 percent of the hardware. Please confirm, and I'll have the CFO cut the check,'' wrote Vulocity representative Manuel Fernandez to Stepongzi in an Oct. 6 e-mail.

County Administrator David Hamilton on Thursday ordered Stepongzi escorted from his office and his computer locked down so that it could be examined.

He also enlisted help from county audit services to begin to investigate.

The allegation "indicates a breach of personnel policy of a serious nature,'' Hamilton said Friday. The situation ''certainly does add new incendiary fuel to the fire'' in the fleet department, he said.

Hamilton said late Friday that 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 operation 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.

The case is reminiscent of another controversy in public works last year when the Times revealed that Hernando's pavement management coordinator Bill Busch was working as a contract worker with the county while also representing a product used by the county.

Busch was let go, a criminal investigation was begun but no charges were ever filed.

Stepongzi came to the county after three years in fleet management for Pinellas County. He also worked in several fleet-related jobs from 1980 through 2002 for Tampa Electric Co.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando County fleet manager resigns over commission from vendor 10/30/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2009 8:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021

    Bucs

    Tampa's Super again. Or at least it will be soon.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 


Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)
  2. Spacewalking astronauts pull off urgent repairs at International Space Station (w/video)

    Space

    CAPE CANAVERAL — Spacewalking astronauts completed urgent repairs at the International Space Station on Tuesday, replacing equipment that failed three days earlier and restoring a backup for a vital data-relay system.

    In this NASA provided frame from video, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer works to install antennas at the International Space Station while astronaut Peggy Whitson, not pictured, works on repairs Tuesday, May 23, 2017. [NASA via AP]
  3. Forecast: Severe storms, gusty winds for Tampa Bay as cold front arrives Wednesday

    Weather

    Muggy and dry conditions will prevail across the Tampa Bay region ahead of a cold front that could produce gusty winds and potentially severe storms late Wednesday.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. For starters: Rays vs. Angels, with Cobb leading the way

    Blogs

    Rays veteran RHP Alex Cobb had a lot to say Monday about the team needing to focus on getting past .500 and building a winning record.

    And after the disappointing 3-2 loss that …

    Alex Cobb will start tonight when the Rays play the Angels.
  5. Tampa murder suspect told police he wanted to stop neo-Nazi roommates from committing acts of domestic terrorism

    Criminal

    TAMPA — After he admitted to shooting two roommates and led police to their dead bodies, Devon Arthurs said he committed the killings to prevent the pair from carrying out terrorist acts, a prosecutor wrote in a court filing.

    Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report.
[Tampa Police]