HILLSBOROUGH CO., Florida -- It's happened again; Hillsborough taxpayers are picking up the bill of a public official accused of wrongdoing. This time it is property appraiser Rob Turner, who is costing the public money in a wrongful termination suit filed by a former employee, Carolyn Filippone.
Filippone was fired by Turner after complaining to the EEOC, which couldn't substantiate her claims. Turner, who said he could not recall sending the woman he once dated a picture of his penis as she claimed, he told 10 News months ago they were sexting.
However, according to Turner, "It was not just me sending to her, she sent as much of that to me, and that was a personal mistake."
And instead of Turner paying the settlement fees, it is taxpayer money that is covering the cost.
Turner's successor, Bob Henriquez, said, "Obviously, it is always a shame when you use taxpayer money for something of this nature."
Henriquez, who will replace Turner in January, and who couldn't even win his party's primary, said if the case had gone to trial the award could have doubled or triple. And while he is not happy about wasting taxpayer money, Henriquez is glad it is over.
"It would have been better spent on someone doing work or part of the staff, but I'm just pleased it will be out of the way and not on my plate when I start day one."
But taxpayers who have to come up with the money for the wrongful termination are not happy. Sylvia Peterson said, "Well, I don't think we should be paying for it. Why should we be paying for his crime? And that's a crime."
Norma Fernandez added, "No, no way that's not right."
Now Hillsborough taxpayers will shell out $135,000 to settle the lawsuit with Carolyn Filippone, but like they say in the infomercials, "Wait! There's more!" Hillsborough taxpayers also paid thousands of dollars in legal fees defending Turner in these suits.
Sylvia Peterson said, "That is ludicrous."
To date, legal fees for the EEOC suit and the current one have come to $19,300, and the office predicts at least $1,000 more in legal fees before it is over. This means that Hillsborough taxpayers will cough up $155,000 to make this incident go away.