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Cape Coral City Manager under investigation

Posted at 5:12 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 12:18:14-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The Cape Coral police department, fire department, FDLE, and the city auditor are all investigating claims made against outgoing city manager, John Szerlag.

All of the issues that seem to stem from the city's finance department and have ultimately brought the city manager's leadership ability into question.

It was revealed at a special meeting Thursday night, that the finance department incorrectly filed payroll taxes leading to $402,000 in penalties from the IRS and thousands in gas tax money being withheld from the city.

A certified letter from the leader of that department claims that the Szerlag knew about those issues, but allegedly didn't bring it up to the city council until he was confronted about it in October of 2019.

That letter also says that Szerlag created a "hostile environment" and that on several different occasions he tried to coerce that employee to do things that were unethical or potentially illegal.

"All of these administrative investigations that tells me that our leadership is lacking in some way, shape, or form. That's what I was looking to have council talk about tonight to see where we go from here." Joe Coviello, Cape Coral Mayor.

Thursday the city council also authorized another investigation into this issue.

But this time, they want it done by an agency that's not affiliated with the city.

Szerlag will be retiring in November and they will be finding a replacement.

It is still unknown if Szerlag will be placed on administrative leave while these investigations are pending.

The council plans to make that decision at next Monday's meeting.