PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — An investigator with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board was arrested Wednesday on public corruption charges, according to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
“This unfortunately is a classic case of public corruption that stems from greed and the abuse of power,” Gualtieri said.
Deputies said 39-year-old Andrea Wagner, who worked as an investigator for the PCCLB, resigned after an investigation found she was willing to “turn a blind eye” towards general contractor Credence Real Estate in exchange for money.
Deputies said Wagner established a relationship with the owners of the contractor in 2020 and later became an investor despite her job investigating potential wrongdoings from the contractor.
Over the course of several months, deputies said Wagner loaned the contractor a total of $90,000 with interest rates ranging between 10% and 12%.
In August 2020, deputies said Wagner agreed to sell one of her personal properties to Credence for a total of $115,000 after the contractor renovated the house.
“The paperwork for the sale was only partially complete,” Sheriff Gualtieri said. “And importantly, the deed hadn’t been executed — the deed had not changed hands.”
In December 2020, Wagner told the contractor she wanted her $90,000 investment returned because she was not happy with the work they had done.
A year later, a settlement agreement was made calling for Credence to pay Wagner the $90,000 plus the $115,000 for the sale of the house and $9,000 in interest for a total of $214,000.
When Credence listed the home for $749,000, “Wagner lost her mind,” Sheriff Gualtieri said.
“She became irate because of the advertised sale price. She had leverage because she still held the deed to the house.”
Deputies said Wagner called the owner of Credence and demanded an additional $136,000 (for a total of $350,000) or she would not sign the deed.
“Wagner corruptly incentivized [the owner] by telling him through text messages that if he paid her the $350,000 that she would turn a blind eye to construction licensing complaints to Credence in her area,” Gualtieri said.