10 News Investigators: Allegations of sex at work at Pasco Housing Authority

10:48 AM, Aug 16, 2011   |    comments
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DADE CITY, Florida -- She is the executive director of the Pasco Housing Authority, but when we tried to ask her questions, Dade City Police Chief Ray Velboom and four other officers kept us away from Karen Turner.  Turner is the target of a whistleblower lawsuit and complaints alleging violations of the law, illegal acts, and false overtime payments.

10 News asked former manager Pat Driscoll if everyone knew what was going on and he told us they did, but Turner was the boss and there was not much that could be done.

The whistleblower's complaint says Driscoll was paid for working when he was actually having sexual intercourse with the executive director, Karen Turner. Driscoll admits that not only was his overtime padded, but he was also finishing a session of oral sex with Turner when co-worker Maggie Taffs walked in. Taffs, who was fired, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit.

Driscoll adds that sex at the office was nothing unusual. He says he and Turner were having sex at the office on a regular basis.

The whistleblower letter says after Driscoll left the agency, Turner cultivated a new relationship with another employee, Bill Dillon, who has an extraordinary amount of overtime on his pay sheet, including 26 hours in one day.

Patricia La Pierre is among the group fired Friday by the Housing Authority and says it is impossible to work that much. The fired workers say it was hard to watch what went on.

The allegations say Turner was misusing federal funds, others in the agency were committing fraud in the form of a bribe, and  the suit says that $25,000 was paid to a Section 8 landlord even though his tenant was kicked out of the program.

Valerie Mooney, another fired employee, says the agency is a mess and is being mismanaged.

Another worker who was let go, Brian Clingan, says those who hate government should be irate. He says taxpayers are going to be pretty upset with their money going to this agency and not helping people who need to be housed.

And while the chairman of the board of the Pasco Housing Authority, Regina Mirabella, was surprised to learn from us that the lawsuit against the agency has not been dismissed, she contends all the allegations have been investigated and found to be untrue. However, the whistleblowers and former employees say the board has no idea of what is going on in the agency. In addition, they believe those who live in agency housing are being neglected.

Marlena Escandon, who showed us glue from tiles, mold on her walls, and problems with her stove, is typical of people we talked to in Pasco Public Housing, but the authority says it's not sure what the problem is and hasn't fixed it.

Escandon says, "Something is making the glue so runny with the water, when it rains, the glue comes out super watery, almost translucent."

We have talked to several others in public housing who have similar complaints and we have talked to almost 25 percent of the employees, or former employees, who express the same feelings as Valerie Mooney.

The Department of Housing and Urban Affairs made a surprise visit to the Pasco Housing Authority in the last two weeks, but there is no word on what it found.

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