Mark Puente - Local Accountability and Pinellas County Reporter

Local Accountability and Pinellas County Reporter

I am an award-winning investigative journalist and a local accountability reporter. I will knock on any door to chase facts and stories. I exposed widespread abuses at Pinellas and Hillsborough agencies in 2017 and 2018. This is my third stint at the Times. I left in 2019 to cover the LAPD for the Los Angeles Times and helped lead coverage of the Conception boat fire that killed 34 divers in Santa Barbara. The work was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2020. I previously worked at the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer and The Baltimore Sun. Prior to becoming a journalist, I spent 15 years driving a tractor trailer. My passions are tacos, smoking meat and honing my BBQ skills over flames in smokers called Precious and Pedro. I earned a political science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I have a wife, three adult sons and a Pug called Bosch.

  1. Former CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay president and CEO Edward Peachey led both public job centers until a series of Tampa Bay Times investigations exposed improper spending of more than $17 million in public money in 2018. Multiple federal investigations are ongoing.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. Families visit Madeira Beach on May 9. Owners of short-term rental properties are waiting for the state to approve a plan to allow the properties in Pinellas County to accept new reservations for Memorial Day weekend. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
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  4. The "Monitoring COVID-19 in Pinellas County" website is seen in this screen shot. [Pinellas County]
  5. Campers enjoy the tranquility at Shell Key. Camping areas are primitive.
  6. Two former St. Petersburg police lieutenants demoted for falsifying hours have accused 49 other supervisors of committing similar acts.  [DIRK SHADD   |   Times] [SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  7. Aerial view of Pass-A-Grille Beach as thousands of people flock to area beaches during the first weekend public beaches in Pinellas County reopened on May 9, 2020. Beaches were closed weeks earlier due to precautions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most beach goers observed social distancing under the watchful eye of law enforcement. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
  8. The Pinellas County Commission discusses a safer-at-home-order in March. In a Zoom meeting on Thursday, the commission discussed the COVID-19 outbreak in nursing homes. [DOUGLAS CLIFFORD  |  Douglas R. Clifford]
  9. Sunstar paramedics, wearing personal protective suits and masks, worked late into Wednesday night to move 21 residents of Gulf Shore Care Center in Pinellas Park who tested positive for COVID-19 to local hospitals. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  10. The St. Petersburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is one of two nursing homes where Pinellas County officials transferred a total of 15 patients to hospitals after they tested positive for COVID-19.  [SCOTT KEELER | Times] [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  11. First-responders evacuate residents of Freedom Square retirement community in Seminole on April 17 who tested positive for COVID-19. The number of deaths there has surpassed 30. Pinellas officials on Monday evacuated 15 patients on Monday after outbreaks were discovered in two other long-term care facilities. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  12. The Pinellas County Personnel Board voted Thursday to hire Dunedin commissioner Maureen Freaney as the interim leader of the county Human Resources Department. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  13. A screen grab of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office's new 'Beach Capacity Dashboard' as seen on May 7. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  14. The Pinellas County Courthouse is seen in this undated Google Earth image. [Google Earth]
  15. Pinellas County deputies, left, were on Pass-A-Grille Beach on May 4 when the beaches reopened during the coronavirus pandemic. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  16. Visitors returned to Pass-A-Grille Beach, St. Pete Beach, Monday morning as beaches in Pinellas County reopened during the coronavirus pandemic. The view is looking north. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  17. St. Petersburg City Hall. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  18. The Pinellas County Commission met in March to discuss passing a safer-at-home order. [DOUGLAS CLIFFORD  |  Douglas R. Clifford]
  19. The Don CeSar is seen along St. Pete Beach in the early morning Friday. Beaches will open to the public on Monday, May 4. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  20. The view looking north in Pass-a-Grille in March. Pinellas County beaches have been closed since March 20. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]