Sunday, May 20, 2018
Public safety

Whatever Happened To: The teacher accused of trying to hire a hit man

A Bloomingdale High School teacher accused of attempting to hire a hit man to kill another teacher is still sitting in the Hillsborough County jail.

Mark Cox, spokesman for the State Attorney's Office, said a trial date for James Pepe, 55, has not been set.

Pepe, a 28-year veteran of the Hillsborough County school system, is charged with solicitation to commit murder and faces up to 30 years in prison.

He was arrested just before classes ended on Sept. 27, after he approached a childhood friend about killing his former colleague, economics teacher Robert Meredith.

Pepe and Meredith had both taught at Strawberry Crest High School and didn't get along. Their feud apparently led Pepe to transfer to Bloomingdale High School last year.

Pepe's friend called the Plant City police in August, and told them of his plans. With help from the FBI, the police set up a sting operation, with an undercover officer playing the role of a hit man working with Pepe's friend, police said.

During a Sept. 13 call, police said, Pepe told the undercover officer that he "had an issue he might need taken care of" and that he could pay $2,000.

During a second call, the officer tried to arrange a meeting. Pepe refused, police said, but still said he wanted Meredith killed.

Elizabeth Behrman can be reached at [email protected]

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