Report: Former Naples fire chief Pete Dimaria had multi-year affair with city employee

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

Details from the investigation of the former Naple fire chief reveal he was having an inappropriate relationship with a city employee for nearly three years.

The former Naples fire chief, Pete Dimaria, admitted to the affair to an investigator. The investigative report was finalized earlier this month. About a week later, Dimaria retired.

The affair occurred while Dimaria served as interim city manager, the top job at city hall apart from the mayor. The city is not releasing the name of the woman with whom he had an affair. The investigation revealed the relationship was essentially an open secret.

September 2, 2022, was the beginning of the end of Dimaria’s career. That’s when a man reported seeing Dimaria and a woman engaging in sexual activity in Dimaria’s work vehicle. The investigators could not definitely say the couple had sex in a parking garage while on duty.

The allegation made it to City Manager Jay Boodeshwar. He hired an outside firm to investigate.

“I’m still digesting the report,” said Beth Petrunoff, a Naples city council member.

This 50-page report results from months of witness interviews, surveillance videos, record reviews, and more.

Petrunoff read the report, with all its raunchy details. “It’s very surprising,” said Petrunoff. “The length of time it went on, and the number of departments it affected.”

What jumped out to Petrunoff is that the report says clearly, a good number of city employees knew about and witnessed Dimaria’s behavior.

“I think that our residents expect a squeaky clean government,” Petrunoff said.

The report says city workers saw Dimaria and the city employee holding hands and cuddling up on a bench at Cambier Park across from city hall, kissing in his work vehicle while in uniform, and hugging out in public.

“I think they expect, you know, a certain level of professionalism, a code of conduct beyond just the regular job description,” said Petrunoff.

The report says Ddimaria’s actions were “Unbecoming a member of the fire-rescue department,” crossing boundaries, creating a conflict of interest and reflecting poorly on the City of Naples’ reputation.

Petrunoff says now that Dimaria is gone, the city must move on. “It is a culture change. You know Pete had been around for a long time. You know Pete has made a lot of great contributions, especially in the vaccine program during COVID.”

Petrunoff also believes the city’s reputation is now tarnished. “There were a lot of departments and a lot of people that it really did adversely impact in the city”

Simply said: the first chief and, for a time, the interim city manager had a relationship with a subordinate married city employee.

An outside investigation by the current city manager found Dimaria had an inappropriate relationship and that the couple was so bold as to have open displays of affection.

The investigative report said Dimaria’s didn’t disclose the relationship to HR or management, wasn’t forthcoming with the investigator about all of his behavior and was insubordinate to City Manager Jay Boodeshwar. The investigation says he was also talking about the investigation when he wasn’t supposed to.

Had Dimaria not retired, the insubordination and talking about the investigation would have resulted in disciplinary action.

“It must’ve been a very, very difficult challenge for our city manager to take on, but he did, and I think the city government is better for it,” Petrunoff said.

Petrunoff wants the city to move forward.

City council member Terry Hutchinson had some fiery words about Dimaria at the end of Monday’s special city council meeting, saying the city should never have re-hired him as fire chief. “We did not have the right person in the right job.” Hutchinson directed the city manager to promote a new chief from within, if possible, and develop other fire personnel, so they’re ready to step up and lead.

Petranoff was the only Naples City Council member willing to speak about the report with WINK News. The city stuck to its original statement when Dimaria retired; “We wish him the best and thank you for your service.”

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