Former Broward Teachers Union President Patrick Santeramo turned himself in today after being charged with 20 counts of various racketeering, theft, and money-laundering charges. There are dozens of pages of accusations to wade through, but one thing sticks out immediately: Between October 2007 and September 2010, Santeramo allegedly embezzled BTU funds to reimburse union members and staff for $25,000 in campaign contributions they made to both the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and the gubernatorial campaign of Alex Sink.
Santeramo is accused to telling a team of 25 people to contribute funds to the Democratic campaigns and that "they and their family members would be reimbursed for these political contributions," according to prosecutors. Internal emails Santeramo allegedly sent to the BTU bookkeeper outline the instructions for reimbursing these people for the contributions, which also included contributions to Nora Rupert's 2010 campaign for Broward County School Board.
He hid these reimbursements by classifying them as "misc. expense, building expense, organizing, staff training, new education program, office supplies, lobbying, communications, negotiating and bargaining, other committees, steward training and special events," according to the arrest warrant.
It is unclear how much funding was diverted to these campaigns, but the annual total was allegedly between $300 and $20,000 for the years 2007 through 2010.
Santeramo also allegedly told BTU's 44 delegates to two Florida Education Association conventions that they should donate $50 to the association's political action committee and then include the donation on an expense report; prosecutors say $2,200 in PAC contributions were reimbursed.
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