Former BTU president arrested, charged
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A former Broward Teacher's Union president is behind bars, facing criminal charges for mismanaging union funds.
Former Broward Teacher's Union president Pat Santeramo turned himself in to authorities Tuesday morning. The Broward State Attorney's Office charged the former BTU president with one count of racketeering and 19 other theft-related and campaign-fraud charges.
Santeramo was charged with six counts of grand theft, five counts of campaign contribution violations, four counts of money laundering, three counts of organized scheme to defraud and one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering. "This case started like many: with a phone call," said Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti at a press conference. "A concerned person, who saw what was going on and let us know that this just didn't seem right."
The call lead to a massive audit investigating Santeramo, who became the union's president in November 2001. According to the arrest affidavit, during his time as president, Santeramo received more than $165,000 in kickbacks from a construction company hired to do work for the union. He also collected more than $121,000 in false sick time and vacation time.
The former union president had resigned last year before a union board could suspend him, however. The American Federation Teacher's Union received complaints of wrongdoing last year, which forced the intense financial audit that lead to disturbing discoveries. "He was behind the scenes stealing their money," said Lamberti, "and that's just sad, that is sad."
If convicted, Santeramo could face life in prison. His bond has been set at $480,000. "I hope that he gets everything that he deserves," said Broward County teacher Robert Sutton.
(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)