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Two fired from Tarpon code enforcement

The employees were accused of harassing managers of an apartment complex where one of them had been evicted last year.

The police chief has fired two code enforcement employees who were accused of using their positions to harass the management at an apartment complex where one of the employees lived.

James L. Schroeder, the city's code enforcement officer, and Maria Greshay, a code enforcement clerk, were fired Tuesday. Schroeder plans to appeal the decision to the city manager, and Greshay said she may appeal the firing.

A police investigation found that they harassed managers at Cornerstone Apartments while Greshay was being evicted from her apartment there. Tarpon Springs police Chief Mark LeCouris wrote in letters to Schroeder and Greshay that he believes they abused the power of their positions.

Even if their actions weren't intentional, LeCouris wrote, "you are at least incompetent in the performance of your duties. . . . Your activity, whether overt or tacit, undermines the public confidence in your ability to fairly and objectively perform your duties in code enforcement."

He wrote that Schroeder and Greshay "have lost my confidence and the public confidence entrusted in you."

Schroeder, 48, did not want to comment other than to say he will appeal the decision.

Greshay, 48, said the charges against her were unfair. She said she might appeal the decision so she can clear her name, but she hasn't made a decision.

Greshay said she learned she had lupus a year ago and would never do anything that would jeopardize her insurance benefits at work. Her husband is unemployed, so Greshay's salary and insurance were important to the family.

"There is no way I would ever compromise the city in any way," she said.

According to police records, Greshay was living at Cornerstone Apartments, off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, in 1999. She paid her rent under special arrangements that allowed her to make payments throughout the month instead of in a lump sum.

When new management took over in August, Greshay was no longer allowed to spread out her monthly rent payment, records show. She received a notice on Aug. 10 that told her to pay her rent within three days or she would be evicted. She paid the rent.

A few days later, Greshay, in her capacity as a code enforcement clerk, called apartment managers with a list of five code violations they needed to correct, records show. Throughout the next two months, Greshay and Schroeder told apartment manager Shelley Goulet about several violations, including problems with fence permits, signs and flags, according to police records.

In late September, the complex again began eviction proceedings against Greshay for failure to pay rent, and the eviction was completed Oct. 21, records show.

Shortly after that, Greshay told Goulet the complex needed permits for installing playground equipment, according to information Goulet gave police. The code enforcement department later cited the complex for a chain-link fence violation.

During interviews with police investigators, Greshay and Schroeder gave inconsistent and differing accounts of what happened.

At times during an interview, Greshay said she didn't make calls to Cornerstone because she didn't want the management to think she was "picking on them." She said she referred complaints about the property to Schroeder. At other times, she said she made calls to the apartment management.

Greshay and Schroeder also gave differing accounts about who initiated complaints against Cornerstone, as well as the amount of involvement Greshay had in Cornerstone cases.

The police officers who investigated the case determined that Greshay and Schroeder knowingly falsified city documents by omitting Greshay's name as the complainant for some of the violations.

But Greshay told a Times reporter that she never initiated complaints against Cornerstone, which was once known as Paces. She said she took calls from people who complained about problems at the apartment complex, and the people wanted to remain anonymous.

She acknowledged that all the anonymous calls "look a little weird." But she said she never did anything inappropriate in relation to Cornerstone.

"I did the best of my abilities to keep that office going. I learned as I went along. If I made mistakes, I'm sorry. But I did not file any complaints against the Paces," she said.