Back in 2010, then-Broward School Board member Stephanie Kraft and her husband, Mitchell, a former Tamarac city attorney, were arrested on unlawful compensation, bribery, and other charges. On Thursday, a Broward jury found Stephanie guilty of official misconduct.
The verdict ends a corruption odyssey that began in 2007, when Stephanie and Mitchell gave two shady South Florida developers, Bruce and Shawn Chait, what the Broward State Attorney's Office called "illegal assistance." The Chaits hired Mitchell to help them get school-required development fees for one of their building projects reduced by up to $500,000.
During the investigation, the Broward State Attorney's Office discovered that Stephanie pushed school staff members to reduce the development fee that Mitchell helped set up onto the school's "consent agenda."
In October 2009, New Times broke the story of Stephanie's involvement with the Chaits via an email Kraft had sent to then-Broward School Board Deputy Superintendent Michael Garretson to carry out the favor for the Chaits for the so-called Prestige Homes development.
Mitchell was hired by the Chaits as a consultant on their Tamarac housing development because they knew he was married to Stephanie. This meant that she could help them get that $500,000 reduction on fees they would otherwise have to pay school district. Mitchell was paid $10,000 for his services basically to sell out Broward residents.
Stephanie then put the item on the School Board agenda in 2007. Staff members objected to the item, rightfully saying it had not been approved or gone through the proper channels.
When the vote came up, Stephanie walked away from the dais, when she should have told them there was a conflict of interest.
The Chaits ultimately testified against Stephanie during the trial after they themselves pleaded guilty to unlawful-compensation charges in 2010 and were sentenced to probation terms. Son Shawn was promised no jail time as long as he cooperated with prosecutors.
Stephanie Kraft was ordered held in custody pending sentencing on December 22. She is facing a possible maximum sentence of five years in Florida State Prison.
Mitchell Kraft is expected to stand trial next year.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!