A former Davie Police Department officer has found himself behind bars after investigators said he took thousands of dollars from a charity set up to help a family whose husband and daughter were killed while Halloween trick-or-treating in 2018.
Jeffrey Stewart, 53, was arrested October 14th on a warrant issued the previous day on charges that include felony grand theft and felony tampering with proceedings. He was being held on a $17,000 bond.
According to an arrest report, Stewart set up the charity Random Acts of Kindness Everyday with his niece, Danielle, after the deaths of 46-year-old Carlos Amaya and his five-year-old daughter Heidy Orellana-Cruz.
Both were killed while walking in a designated crosswalk near the 6600 block of Griffin Road on October 30th, 2018, when they were struck by a 2011 Cadillac CTS traveling eastbound.
A second child, a 2-year-old girl, sustained a laceration to her head and was taken to the hospital as a precaution. The couple's 17-year-old son Erick told NBC 6 after the crash that Amaya had come from El Salvador five years ago for a better life and the family followed several years later.
The charity raised over $32,000, which Stewart allegedly used to spend $10,000 on funeral expenses and to send the victim’s bodies back to El Salvador. Another $13,000 was given to the victim’s wife while police say Stewart kept the remaining $9,000 in case he “had to pay taxes” on the charity.
Stewart told police the money was allegedly stolen by his niece, but an investigation proved that was false and he was taken into custody.
An arrest report listed Stewart’s current employer as the Broward County School Board, which did not issue a statement on the case.
Sign up for our Breaking newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.