Newly obtained report details accusations on 2 Cape Coral city hall employees

“Insulting and abusive” are two words an outside investigator used to describe an employee interaction inside Cape Coral city hall.

WINK News obtained the investigative documents tied to the months-long investigation that ended in September. The investigation looked into the city’s contract business manager, Jay Murphy, and interactions between him and the finance director, Vicky Bateman.

The investigation centered around a meeting on March 28. At the meeting, Bateman said she was “bullied” and “insulted.” She did not file a formal complaint, but the city manager, John Szerlag, called for an outside investigation that ended with Murphy being disciplined.

Now, Szerlag is facing multiple investigations surrounding city hall. Council members and Mayor Joe Coviello are at odds with Szerlag. Bateman is on paid leave after a financial department employee landed the city with hundreds of thousands of dollars in Internal Revenue Service fines.

Jennifer Nelson, a councilmember in Cape Coral, said the several issues Bateman stated “are very concerning.” After being placed on leave, Bateman wrote a three-page letter. It has been obtained and verified only by WINK News. The letter contains allegations of corruption, dishonesty, mismanagement and neglect that is all directed at Szerlag and Murphy.

The Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement and a Tampa law firm are investigating the allegations in the letter. In the meantime, the council voted 5-3 to let Szerlag keep his job for now.

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