Former employee says she was wrongfully blamed for Cape Coral’s unpaid taxes

A Southwest Florida city employee found herself at the center a major tax scandal that has caused need for outside parties to investigate its city manager among other issues. The employee spoke to us exclusively to share her story, how she feels wronged by her supervisors and blamed for issues she says were not caused by her.

Former employee Shannon Drouin said the supervisors at the City of Cape Coral have wrongfully blamed her for the costly mistake that has the city on the hook for $400,000 in unpaid taxes to the IRS.

Drouin and her family are now leaving Cape Coral, in part, because of what she described as a terrible work experience inside Cape Coral City Hall. She admits mistakes were made but believes she was set up for failure. It’s a position Drouin says she never expected to be in — her name and work at the center of a major investigation at city hall.

Drouin worked in the city’s finance department for 14 months. That department is under scrutiny after news of a mistake with payroll taxes landed the city with IRS fines, a mistake Drouin feels co-workers unfairly placed on her.

“How did it happen? Poor management before I started,” Drouin said.

Drouin says she never received proper training or instruction on how to use the city’s payroll systems. And she claims her boss, Laura Tanner, bullied her even after finding out she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Laura’s bullying created a situation where the prior payroll specialist didn’t want to be there,” Drouin said. “And so she left employment and left me in a position where I was shocked from a diagnosis doing three people’s job with no support.”

Mistakes in the city’s finance department landed three people on paid leave and spiraled into multiple investigations at city hall, including into City Manager John Szerlag.

Drouin left her job at Cape Coral City Hall back in October 2019. She’s now drafting an email with her story to the Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello and city council.

We reached out to a city spokesperson for comment, but we were told they couldn’t comment because of active investigations.

“I feel like this mismanagement put me in this situation where the error was bad,” Drouin said. “But it created such a hostile environment, and I don’t want other employees to be treated the way that I was.”

Reporter:Brooke Shafer
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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