It’s not just the big businessmen who still from their companies. No, occasionally public servants get into the game as well.
We’re talking specifically about Pat Santeramo who used his position as the former president of the Fort Lauderdale based Broward Teachers Union to skim more money than we actually thought a teachers union had access to. Over the course of several years Santeramo apparently stole nearly $300,000 of union funds, at least according to the nine month police investigation into him.
“We… have the benefit of a very extensive police investigation, which we suspect may well serve as a road map for our recovery efforts,” Kendall Coffey, the lawyer representing BTU explained.
How did Santeramo possibly do all of this? Some of the embezzlement was simple, using company credit cards for personal use, for example, or reimbursing union members or associates (including himself) for contributing to political campaigns- never minding that is incredibly illegal. But the majority of his scheme required at least one other person, David Esposito, the owner of Marstan Construction of Coral Springs.
Santeramo allegedly booked Esposito for more projects than were really needed, everything from dealing with ants to dying the carpet in his office. Esposito charged him more than was necessary for the job and, when the union paid the bills, kicked money back to Santeramo to the tune of anywhere between $1,000 and $20,000.
That’s where the board became suspicious, seeing the same company over and over again. Eventually the police department stepped in and led a nine month investigation into Santeramo’s dealings.
However, Santeramo wasn’t done. He resigned in December, but submitted falsified documents to collect approximately $122,000 of unused sick and vacation days that he wasn’t entitled to. Luckily, according to Kendall Coffey, his termination agreement contained a specific carve-out that the union can seek the money if there was any kind of fraud committed that will help the union recover that money.
He, and the union plan to “take whatever action may be appropriate to try to recover the funds.”
Santeramo surrendered to the main jail in downtown Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday to face 20 criminal charges that include racketeering and money laundering.