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DJJ yanks free cars for Peterman, 3 aides

Florida Juvenile Justice Secretary Frank Peterman and three high-ranking deputies have surrendered their free take-home cars after a state investigation said the vehicles might violate federal tax rules on unreported income.

The department issued the cars to Peterman and three top aides because they frequently visit field offices and must be on call to respond to emergencies. The cars are considered perquisites, or perks.

"Effective immediately, all of the perquisite vehicles assigned to Tallahassee staff have been rescinded," Peterman wrote in a memo to his staff Tuesday. "These vehicles will now join the state vehicle pool and be requested as needed."

A Jan. 26 report by Gov. Charlie Crist's chief inspector general, Melinda Miguel, reads: "Based on Florida statutes and other governing directives, personal use of a state-issued vehicle by an employee may constitute a taxable fringe benefit." The report said the Juvenile Justice Department has not issued tax forms on the cars. (Full story is here)