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Kraft Gives Newspapers The Pulp Treatment

After running to the Sun-Sentinel to defend her husband's employment with lobbyist Neil Sterling, Stephanie Kraft went mum when the newspaper followed Pulp reports on her financial connection to Prestige Homes.

She didn't return reporters' calls, but her lawyer, Ken Padowitz, told the newspaper: "She has cooperated and helped the federal authorities in their investigation. She is not a target of the investigation."

Well, that's a lie on its face. How would Padowitz know? Kraft is in the federal cross-hairs, according to sources. Just the fact that she has her lawyer talking for her is an indication of that. Kraft also decided against speaking to the Miami Herald.

This is radical -- Stephanie Kraft has always been a quote machine. Suddenly a cat's got her tongue. What has her so frightened? The fact that she's not 

being targeted by the feds?  

That Kraft skipped the vote to the give the $500,000 discount to Prestige Homes -- even though she was present at the meeting -- is at least as damning as if she had voted. Why? Because she didn't abstain from the vote. Her failure to pull the trigger on the vote is an indication that of intentional guilt and her failure to disclose her financial relationship to the company is proof she was intent on hiding the relationship from the public.

Think about it, if she had abstained from the vote, she would have had to have explained on the state disclosure form that she her husband was paid by the firm to help get it a $500,000 break in fees from her own school board and that she had personally gotten involved to make sure the company got that break from the taxpayers. She would have had to have admitted that she emailed Deputy Superintendent Michael Garretson telling him to put the matter on the July 24 agenda and that she pressured other staff as well.

The best lesson in this kind of deception came in the Keith Wasserstrom case (a story also broken in this publication). The former Hollywood commissioner not only didn't vote on a sewage company that he was financially connected to, but he disclosed the relationship publicly.

The problem was that Wasserstrom didn't reveal the true nature of his deal with the company and mischaracterized the extent of his financial involvement. A jury convicted him of official misconduct, a conviction that was upheld by the appellate court last month. (Click here to read a copy of the 4th District Court of Appeals' ruling; it's well-written and authoritative, piercing through all of Wasserstrom's B.S. In fact, I would make it required reading for all federal prosecutors who too often bend over backwards to make themselves believe that a jury would believe the outlandish excuses offered up by public officials to explain obvious corruption. If it stinks, prosecute it. The people see through it, juries see through it, and appellate courts see through it. Everybody's fed up).

Also, there's a big question hanging out there in the Kraft case: Why was it so important to Stephanie Kraft (and Prestige Homes) that they get the $500,000 gift from taxpayers on July 24? I'm coming close to answering that question and will report when I do.

Also, Stephanie Kraft is, as I type this, sitting on the dais representing voters and taxpayers on the School Board of Broward County. If that doesn't send a shiver down your spine ...

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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