Former state Rep. Frank Peterman's ethics troubles are deepening. The former St. Petersburg lawmaker, who served as state juvenile justice secretary under former Gov. Charlie Crist, should be fined $5,000 and face a public censure and reprimand, a state judge has decided.
Peterman, 49, opted to challenge a probable cause finding by the Commission on Ethics that he corruptly violated the ethics laws by racking up tens of thousands of dollars' worth of trips between his state office in Tallahassee and his home in St. Petersburg, where he also served as a church pastor. But after hearing two days of testimony in November, state Administrative Law Judge Susan Belyeu Kirkland concluded that Peterman broke the law. She issued her decision on Dec. 30.
"Mr. Peterman used his position as secretary of DJJ to travel to his primary residence at state expense when there was no state purpose for the travel," the judge wrote in an 18-page opinion. "Such actions show that he corruptly used his position to get home at state expense."
Peterman's attorney, Mark Herron, called the ruling "an injustice," noting that Peterman has already reimbursed the state treasury for his questionable travel. Herron said Peterman likely would appeal the judge's decision. "It's totally unjust," he said. The Peterman saga began with this Times/Herald report more than two years ago.
-- Steve Bousquet