A Florida high school teacher was arrested last week as a suspect in a murder-for-hire scheme against a fellow teacher. He was also fired by another school district for disciplinary problems 11 years ago.
James Pepe, a 55-year-old teacher at Florida's Bloomingdale High School, was arrested Thursday in an undercover operation in which agents said he offered $2,000 to kill Robert Meredith, a teacher at Strawberry Crest High School and former co-worker, according to ABC News.
On Saturday, prosecutors played a phone conversation between Pepe and a friend in which Pepe allegedly says he wants Meredith killed. Police said that Pepe wanted Meredith killed because he believed Meredith was spreading rumors that he was a child molester.
“What do you want done with Bob Meredith?” the friend asked. 'I want him killed,” the man, who prosecutors say is Pepe, replied.
That friend later tipped off the police, according to ABC News.
"This relationship got to a point where Pepe felt that any negative thing that happened to him at work, he thought Meredith was behind it," Officer Tray Towles, a spokesman for the Plant City Police Department, told the Tampa Bay Times.
When the friend refused, Pepe considered a former student that he called a criminal, according to WTSP Tampa.
WTSP reported that Meredith had no idea about the alleged hire-for-kill plot planned by Pepe.
However, Pepe is said to have exhibited aggressive behavior in the past.
Pepe was accused of "hostile," "aggressive" and "extremely volatile" behavior after an incident in November 2001. He is currently on paid suspension by the school district and a public defender argued that because Pepe was accused of solicitation and not conspiracy he should be granted bond.
Parents, however, are concerned. "It's frightening. It's scary," Glenda Williams, who's daughter was a teacher's assistant under Pepe told ABC Action News.
"It's very disconcerting that we have teachers in public schools that are capable of doing this, and our children are in their care."