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Pete’s family roots include several generations of small farmers from the town of Malone, Jackson County, Florida. His father, a fourth generation Floridian, left the family farm to join the Navy and then enjoyed a 40 year career in aviation with Pan American World Airways.
Pete attended Yale University, where he earned a BA in Economics. Following his Yale career, he was awarded a Masters of Business Administration from Stanford University and then earned his law degree from the University of Florida in 1986. He was a member of the Florida Law Review and has been admitted to the state bars of Florida, Alabama, California and the District of Columbia. Pete was Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar from 1999 to 2009, and has earned the highest possible “AV” peer review rating for legal ability and ethical standards by Martindale-Hubbell.
After law school, Pete returned to the panhandle, joining one of Pensacola’s largest law firms. His desire to perform public service led him to join the State Attorney’s Office for the 1st Judicial Circuit in 1989. As an Assistant State Attorney, Pete handled cases from DUIs to property crimes to violent crimes, including sexual assaults, homicides and child abuse. He quickly rose to the position of Special Prosecutor for the office and formed a new Traffic Homicide Unit responsible for all DUI Manslaughter and traffic homicide cases. While in this position, Pete became one of Florida’s most experienced traffic homicide prosecutors and won convictions in 100% of these cases. It was during these years with the State Attorney’s Office that Pete became known for working closely with law enforcement and conducting frequent training programs to ensure that all serious crimes were investigated fully and professionally. During many nights, Pete would answer his pager, climb out of bed, and drive to the scene of the crime to assist the officers and forensic technicians.
In 1998, Pete came to work for Attorney General Robert Butterworth as a Senior Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust and Economic Crimes. He served as Florida’s lead attorney on the antitrust case against Microsoft Corporation. Many of these complex litigation cases required Florida to work closely with other states and federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and the US Department of Justice. In another case involving the price fixing of certain generic drugs, Pete helped achieve a settlement with the drug manufacture that required the payment on $108 million in damages and attorneys’ fees.
Following his work at the Attorney General’s Office, Pete joined the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. As the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, Pete supervised a staff of over 300 auditors, licensing professionals, and sworn law enforcement officers charged with enforcing Florida alcoholic beverage and tobacco laws.
In January 2003, Pete was appointed by Attorney General Charlie Crist to a four year term as Florida’s Statewide Prosecutor. He was based in Tallahassee and supervised 40 Assistant Statewide Prosecutors located in 8 offices across the state, with an annual budget of $6 million. The Office of Statewide Prosecution was charged with investigation and prosecuting organized criminal activity that took place in two or more judicial circuits. The cases included insurance fraud, Medicaid fraud, securities fraud, internet crimes against children, organized schemes to defraud, RICO, and public corruption charges.
During 2003 and 2004, Pete empanelled and advised the 17th Statewide Grand Jury which investigated counterfeit prescription drug and Medicaid fraud issues. This grand jury’s findings and reports led to the drafting of the Drug Prescription Safety Act, passed by the Florida Legislature in 2003. These new statutes dramatically toughened Florida’s laws governing the storage and sale of prescription drugs, and Florida became the first state to require that all drugs have chain of custody papers that proved the prescription drugs purchased by Florida consumers were not counterfeit, adulterated or black market products. The grand jury’s findings also led to the passage of new anti-fraud revisions to Florida’s Medicaid statutes. (The 17 Statewide Grand Jury’s reports can be found at myflorialegal.com.)
As Statewide Prosecutor, Pete encouraged cooperation with Florida’s 20 State Attorneys and three United States Attorneys. His office also assisted or handled cases for approximately 100 law enforcement agencies a year, including federal and state law enforcement agencies, Sheriffs’ offices and local police departments. The office used the police-prosecutor team approach that encouraged his attorneys to actively assist with investigative strategies before arrests were made. This resulted in almost all arrests producing convictions, with annual conviction rates averaging 95%. Pete also issued annual reports for the Office of Statewide Prosecution for the years 2003, 2004, and 2005. Each year, the office recovered from defendants well more than its budget in restitution, fines and costs.
Following Pete’s 4 year term as Statewide Prosecutor, he served as Inspector General with two large state agencies, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the Department of Education. As Inspector General at AHCA, he supervised over 100 auditors and investigators with the Bureau of Medicaid Program Integrity, which is charged with detecting, preventing and recovering Medicaid overpayments.
This office worked closely with the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the Attorney General’s Office and recovered approximately $50 million a year in fraudulent or improper Medicaid payments. The 2009-10 annual report on “The State’s Efforts to Control Medicaid Fraud and Abuse” may be found at ahca.myflorida.com.
Pete, his wife Janet (a FSU grad), and three youngest children live in the Killearn Estates subdivision in northeast Tallahassee. Their children Hudson, Dillon and Skye proudly attend Roberts Elementary School. Pete’s oldest son, Jackson, is an undergraduate history major at the University of Florida. (Skye and Dillon, however, insist they will attend FSU.)
Pete’s favorite use of his free time is to coach kids and he has enjoyed coaching over 20 youth teams in four sports since his oldest son played machine pitch. He currently coaches for the Tallahassee YMCA and the City of Tallahassee.
Pete has also mentored high school students by coaching the Leon High mock trial team. Most recently, Pete served as Inspector General at the Department of Education, where he worked closely with Commissioner Gerard Robinson and many Superintendants of Schools to guard the fiscal integrity of numerous federal and state educational programs.
He resigned from this position in April 2012 in order to qualify and run for State Attorney for the 2nd Judicial Circuit.