James Pepe teacher arrested: Students return as teacher in murder-for-hire plot faces judge

11:26 AM, Sep 28, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Teacher in murder-for-hire plot faces judge


Valrico, Florida -- As students headed back to Bloomingdale High School, one of their teachers got set to head before a judge.

That teacher, James Pepe, was arrested for allegedly trying to hire a hitman to kill another teacher.

School spirit filled the halls Friday as smiling kids in red and black headed for a pep rally to start the day. But everyone knew about the unsettling undercurrent -- the charges against one of their teachers.

Principal Mark West used his morning announcement to focus the tone of the day on fun, learning, and school pride.

"We have had some shocking news surrounding our school in the past 24 hours that really has nothing to do with our great students that we have here," West said, speaking over the school's public address system.

"Today we have a unique opportunity to show people outside of our school just how great our school is."

Police came to Bloomingdale High on Thursday to arrest James Pepe.

Angry at a fellow teacher at nearby Strawberry Crest High School, police say Pepe called a friend to ask for something far more than a favor: he wanted his colleague killed.

Not wanting anyone to die, the friend called police.

Police say a sting operation then recorded Pepe offering an undercover officer $2,000 to commit the murder.

Pepe is in jail and set to face a judge for the first time this morning.

We talked off-camera with the man police say was the target of this plot. He said he was stunned and had no idea why Pepe would want to hire a hitman to go after him.

When that victim got a phone call from police telling him he was the target of a murder-for-hire plot... at first, he thought the call was a prank by some high schoolers.

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