Fort Lauderdale

Ex-Head of Broward Teachers Union Facing New Federal Charges

Former Broward Teachers Union President Pat Santeramo was in court Monday facing new federal mail fraud charges.

Federal prosecutors said Santeramo committed two counts of wire fraud when sending letters to the Broward County School Board.

The federal indictment indicated it all surrounded an $80,000 annual payment that went from the school board to the teachers union for training and locating guest speakers. Santeramo would write the board telling it how the money was used.

But prosecutors said Santeramo directed funds into his own pocket. The indictment says: "It was the purpose of the scheme for Patrick Santeramo to unlawfully enrich himself and others by fraudulently obtaining money from the School Board," and he, "Omitted that payments were made to him and at least one other employee, and he misappropriated in excess of $35,000."

Santeramo's attorney Larry Davis said his client did not commit any crime, "We are looking forward to our day in court. We believe that the accountability fund itself was being monitored itself by the school board through the Broward Teachers Union through the teachers who were getting the benefits of the work that was being done through the fund."

Davis said at all times the books were open for the school board to see where the money was going, the unions auditors examined the paperwork and the program did so well, it served as a model for the entire state.

Santeramo headed home after prosecutors agreed he was no flight risk.

If Santeramo is convicted, the government wants the money taken through the alleged mail fraud returned, and if it can't be located, he could have to give up other property. Each one of these mail fraud counts carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.

Santeramo is scheduled in court on the state charges filed against him in October.

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