FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Pat Santeramo’s career came to an abrupt halt last year when the American Federation of Teachers conducted an audit of his union’s finances and discovered shocking irregularities.
In July, the former Broward Teachers Union president was “charged with one count of racketeering and 19 other theft-related and campaign fraud” offenses, according to Observer Online.
After his election as union president in 2001, Santeramo “began using the BTU as his artifice to organize his scheme to defraud the union and its members,” according to CBS 4.
He allegedly received kickbacks from a contractor that provided him with $165,500. He allegedly used union credit cards to charge thousands of dollars worth of personal goods and services.
He allegedly forged documents to increase the amount of unused sick pay and vacation pay he received when he left the union.
He is also accused of using union funds to reimburse 25 union members for campaign contributions they made to various political candidates.
AFT President Randi Weingarten was apparently responsible for ordering the audit that uncovered Santeramo’s alleged activities.
In a memo to union members, Weingarten wrote “The audit was done in response to a letter to me from a member of the BTU board. In the course of that audit, AFT staff became aware of certain irregularities indicating that BTU had made improper reimbursements to individuals for political contributions to candidates and/or party committees.
“Immediately upon being informed of this, I instructed AFT staff to alert the appropriate legal authorities. The allegations against him [Santeramo] go far beyond reimbursement of political contributions, and suggest a serious level of financial abuse.”
Santeramo pleaded not guilty in November and awaits trial. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
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