Within a few short hours of each other, two city employees were apprehended by the Clearwater Police Department on unrelated counts of stealing.
Christopher Pieslak, a former Risk Management employee, had been working for the city as far back as April. He was receiving a salary of about $50,000 each year. According to the Clearwater Police Department, Pieslak forged at least two checks payable to himself. The forgeries totaled nearly $3,000. These checks were allegedly meant for a collision city, but the money was never paid. The city became suspicious and initiated an investigation. When they discovered the truth, Pieslak was arrested and charged with theft and forgery. He later admitted to stealing and claimed he has “medical issues and financial hardships.”
Just hours later, the Clearwater Police Department arrested Brian Pape for an unrelated felony scheme to defraud. The suspect, a 60-year-old equipment operator in the Solid Waste Department, is accused of filling up his car with gas for personal use at least 10 different times. He defrauded the city of at least 180 gallons of diesel amounting to about $500. The city pumps he used were meant for official city business cars only. Police are convinced the suspect knew what he was doing was wrong because he would also use his city vehicle to block nearby surveillance cameras when he filled up his own car. Despite his attempts, other cameras still captured his actions. Police confirmed that Pape has worked for the city since October of 2013. He makes about $30,000 a year.
These recent arrests have warranted concern from city leaders. In response, they have limited cash transactions, implemented a revised financial reporting system and hired an internal auditor to conduct an investigation into city employee’s spending. The internal investigation will not occur until police wrap up the criminal investigation.