A criminal case is underway against a former School Board member in Broward County, Florida, triggered by a $500,000 break on fees from a controversial real estate developer. Stephanie Kraft is accused of taking a $10,000 bribe from Prestige Homes, an outfit run by father and son team, Bruce and Shawn Chiat.
In 2007, the company was planning a new housing development which was subject to mitigation fees of $1.7 million. Bruce Chiat acknowledged he gave Kraft’s husband Mitch, an attorney, $10,000 to help convince the school board to agree to a substantially lower amount. Prosecutors claim that Stephanie Kraft worked behind the scenes to get the fee reduced, creating a conflict of interest. On the day of the vote, she quietly left the dais when the matter came up, and did not indicate her husband’s involvement in the matter.
The six board members, who voted in favor of the massive fee reduction, claim they have no recollection of why they decided to vote for the break, despite the school district staff’s position to the contrary. During the meeting, records show that the agenda item was not questioned or debated before the vote was taken.
According to Philip Sweeting, a former Boca Raton Deputy Police Chief, to give away $507,942 without question, the six board members either were “totally incompetent or there was a behind-the-scenes deal done.”