A number of serious allegations have been made against the ex-president of the Broward Teachers’ Union, including that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds through kickbacks, union credit cards and other illegal means.
Broward criminal defense lawyers know that, as is the case with most white collar crimes, documentation is going to be key. In order to show intent and prove that these crimes were actually committed and that there was clear intent, as opposed to simply an accounting or procedural error, will be key for prosecutors. The defendant faces more than 20 counts, including racketeering, money laundering and theft.
It will also be important for defense counsel to determine if there was a crime committed, to what extent the defendant may or may not have been involved.
The charges stem from an audit that was conducted by the teachers’ union board members, whose suspicions were aroused when the same Coral Springs construction company seemed to be hired for all contracts, with no real explanation from the president.
The union is one of the largest in the state, overseeing some 12,000 educators, technicians and support staff.
The construction company had been hired more than 30 times in the five years between 2006 and 2011 to do everything from killing ants to repairing toilets and dying carpet. The majority of those invoices, the board determined, had been greatly-inflated.
Prosecutors now say that when the union paid those bills to the construction company, some of that money was going back into the 64-year-old president’s pocket. In fact, prosecutors say that all totaled, the now former president received about $165,000 in kickbacks.
The construction contractor has apparently been given immunity in the case, in exchange for his testimony against the president.
The former president’s arrest affidavit additionally states that he used union credit cards to purchase gas and home improvement supplies that were for personal use.
Prosecutors also say that the defendant, as well as a number of members and associates, made campaign contributions to certain politicians with union funds.
Sheriff’s deputies have said they believe the majority of allegedly stolen funds were used by the president to purchase a vacation home. Board members have said they are looking into exploring options on how they’ll get the money back – about $300,000 total.
While the allegations became public late last year, with the president resigning in December, he wasn’t actually arrested until recently. When he did resign, he reportedly received $175,000 in vacation and sick hours that he hadn’t yet used. However, the board now says they were duped and that he forged documentation to inflate that number by more than $120,000.
While all of this seems like fairly extensive evidence against the president, his attorney claims that the allegations are inflated and that if there were any over-payments to the president at any time, they were unintended mistakes. He did accept responsibility for the campaign contributions, which his attorney said, “did not comply technically with the law.”
He nonetheless contended that any inappropriate actions with regard to campaign contributions were at least partially due to the fact that campaign finance laws are quite complex.
If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.