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BROWARD (CBSMiami) – A former teachers union president has been found guilty on several corruption charges.
Pat Santeramo led the Broward Teachers Union for 10 years before his arrest.
The one-time powerful head of the BTU was accused of stealing $300,000 from union funds in different schemes.
According to the Broward State Attorney’s Office, after his election as president of the BTU in November 2001, Santeramo “began using the BTU as his artifice to organize his scheme to defraud the union and its members.”
According to the SAO, from 2001 to 2012, Santeramo “was able to systematically divert approximately $165,500 in union funds to himself through an invoice-kickback scheme with a construction company.”
The company then gave $20,000 of the union’s payment back to Santeramo in cash, according to the SAO.
According to the SAO, Santeramo also improperly collected more than $121, 848 in false sick and vacation time.
A BTU audit found that under Santeramo’s leadership, the union spent nearly $4 million in reserve fund over multiple years on political campaigns, rallies, and other areas. Additionally, the BTU didn’t pass along increases in state and national union dues to members.
The state attorney’s office also said Santeramo made a series of illegal campaign contributions by having 25 people, including union members, make donations to a variety of candidate and then would reimburse the people form union funds for their contribution.
He was facing a total of nine criminal charges that included theft, money laundering and campaign contribution violations.
The jury found him guilty on eight of those charges.
Santeramo faces up to 30 years in prison on the most serious charge when he is sentenced.