Patrick Santeramo’s union career ended several years ago, but the fallout continues. On April 22, Santeramo, who had run the Broward Teachers Union for a decade, was sentenced in Fort Lauderdale federal court to 18 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, for wire fraud in a school district-funded, union-run program. He also was ordered to pay $93,800 in restitution and a $4,000 fine. The prison term will run consecutive to a five-year sentence handed down days earlier in a state case involving allegations of contractor kickbacks and false reimbursements. Santeramo was convicted in January by a jury in the state case; he pleaded guilty in February in the federal case. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.
Educators have been responsible for some of the more flagrant cases of union corruption in recent years. Patrick Santeramo, for one, doesn’t need any reminders of that. On January 20, Santeramo, former president of the Broward Teachers Union, the Broward County, Florida affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, was convicted by a state jury on various theft, fraud, money laundering, and campaign finance violations. Only weeks later, on February 12, he pleaded guilty in Fort Lauderdale federal court to one count of mail fraud.
Pat Santeramo enjoyed the perks of running a union. Unfortunately, evidence suggests he couldn't tell legal from illegal ones. Last Tuesday, July 10, Santeramo, former president of the Broward Teachers Union (BTU), the Broward County, Florida affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), surrendered to county authorities in downtown Fort Lauderdale to face charges that he misappropriated nearly $300,000 from the 11,500-member union. Local leaders say, if anything, that figure is well on the low side. His lawyer, Benedict Kuehne, denies all 19 charges, which include racketeering, grand theft, fraud, money laundering, and illegal campaign contributions. "We believe that Pat Santeramo will be vindicated of those accusations," said Kuehne. His client is free on $480,000 bond.