Ann Murray was elected to the Broward County School Board as a working-class reformer.
In record time, she became part of the problem. Murray quickly cozied up to special-interest campaign contributors she claimed she would fight, has proven to be a go-along advocate of the corrupt status quo, and hasn't reformed a thing.
Worst of all, Murray is tied at the hip to a felon. The felon is George Bograkos, who was convicted in 1995 in what was then billed as one of the biggest mass-mailing fraud cases in U.S. history.
It worked like this: Bograkos, who still runs a company called Mastermailer Inc., and his business cohorts bribed postal workers with cash and sports tickets to get unlawful cost breaks on mass mailings. The feds said Bograkos was the bag man in the scheme and caught him handing money to postal workers who were in on the crime.
Bograkos was initially charged with bribery and fraud but wound up pleading guilty to a single charge of defrauding the U.S. government in 1995.
Considering the scathing words in the recently released statewide grand jury report, Bograkos would seem to fit in perfectly at the corrupt School Board. And guess what? He does.
I wrote about Murray hiring Bograkos to run her campaign in October 2009. The following month, unbenownst to me, she appointed Bograkos to the powerful School Board District Advisory Council, where he sits to this day. She also appointed him to the School Board's Technology Advisory Committee.
Now here's where it gets interesting. The "extortionate attempt" to silence the School Board critic known as Broward Cleansweep was, according to the statewide grand jury, orchestrated by a man sitting on the District Advisory Council. The man also works as a "political consultant" for politicians. Again, Bograkos fits that bill, with his top client being Murray, who paid Bograkos $11,500 for his role as a campaign consultant. She paid his mailing company another $4,000 or so, and she raised just $23,000.
There's more that points to Bograkos as the culprit.
Broward Cleansweep, to the great dismay of the thin-skinned Murray, published photos of Murray and Bograkos together at a bar. Cleansweep, who remains anonymous but occasionally contacts me, told me that another Facebook "shill" that defended the board and harassed him online was proven to be Murray's daughter, Michelle. She called herself "Dewey Cheatem Howe."
So the Murray forces were all atwitter over Cleansweep. Might Bograkos be the bungler who called himself "Broward Conscience" and made the disgusting attempt to extort Cleansweep out of existence?
I'm hearing from district sources that it was Bograkos, but he denies it in unconvincing fashion. Inside, see what Bograkos said when I grilled him on the matter.
I spoke with Bograkos yesterday and asked him right off the bat if he was Broward Conscience.
He denied knowing what that was.
I asked him if he had tried to force Broward Cleansweep off the internet.
He denied knowing who that was too.
"It's not true," he said. "I don't know what you're talking about. How did you [here he stopped himself and rephrased the question]... Who told you that?"
I told him I thought he was lying and asked him again. And again.
Finally, he admitted that he knew about Broward Cleansweep and Broward Conscience and the extortion attempt but still claimed he wasn't the culprit.
"Oh my, don't you have anything real to write about?" he asked me. "That was a joke. That was just entertainment."
That's a hell of a sense of humor on Bograkos. You remember that Broward Conscience wrongfully believed that Cleansweep was a School Board whistleblower and employee named Michael Marchetti and threatened to get Marchetti and his wife, who also works at the district, fired and arrested. Ha ha.
I asked him about the photos Cleansweep posted of him and Murray.
"He put photos of everybody up," said Bograkos. "I have no beef with him. It was entertaining."
OK, he'd gone from not knowing what Broward Cleansweep was to having a lot of knowledge about it. Then he made another admission.
"I have had conversations with people in authority about what you are alleging," he said.
Now he was admitting that he'd spoken with officials about a matter in which he initially said he had no knowledge.
"Did you deny it to them too?" I asked him.
"I didn't deny it to anyone with credentials," he said.
"So you admitted it to them?"
"I'm done with you, Bob."
With that, he hung up the phone.
The appointment of Bograkos says more about Murray than it does about anyone else. And if Bograkos is indeed Broward Conscience, then she should be ashamed. Here's how the grand jury put it in the report:
Based on the testimony we heard, at least one Board member is aware of what took place, yet so far as we know, no action has been taken to ask this person to voluntarily resign, disclose his actions to the rest of the Board, or otherwise disassociate from him. So far as we know, no one at the Board has even asked a single question about this incident, nor expressed any desire to determine who might be attacking a District employee for exercising his political rights.
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I called Murray and left a message with her about Bograkos and Broward Cleansweep, but she didn't return it. This from a School Board member who told me during the election that she would always be available to talk about any issue. Gosh. You don't think she was lying, do you?
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