Controversy surrounds 2 Orange Co. Clerk of Courts employees over severance pay

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

9 Investigates has uncovered new records that show some employees in the Orange County Clerk's Office felt pressured into signing off on huge severance packages for two top administrators.

Channel 9's Kathi Belich broke new ground on the story Thursday when she reported former interim clerk Colleen Reilly and her general counsel paid themselves a total of $277,000.

The pair asked for the money the day after clerk Lydia Gardner passed away, and new records show four employees were consumed by the issue, questioning the payouts and questioning the way they were being demanded by the two employees who were still working at the office.

The new records obtained by Channel 9 show former Orange County Clerk of Court General Counsel Stephan Carter is accused of threatening two employees over his severance payout for a job he wasn't leaving.

Talent manager Joann Gammichia wrote that Carter "was hostile and (threatening) to me, stating that I was in direct violation of an order from the clerk and that I had no authority in this private matter."

Documents show she and three other employees resisted Carter's demands to cut a $156,443 check for him and a $115,329 severance check for Reilly, who also was staying on the job.  

The new records show Gammichia and the others wanted written authorization, which policy required.

An email exchange shows a payroll employee said they were working on it and Carter's response was, "Working on what? What is there to work on?"

"The counsel for the office is responsible for enforcing the policies of the office, not violating those procedures and not pressuring people to violate those procedures in which he'd gain financially," said WFTV political analyst Rick Foglesong.

Channel 9 tried again on Monday to talk to Carter about the allegations but no one came to his door for comment.