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Sun Sentinel
May 13, 2010

City calls for second audit, removes board members

By ELIZABETH ROBERTS

In the wake of Deerfield Beach's decision to place two Community Development Division employees on paid leave, city commissioners have approved a request by Commissioner Bill Ganz to remove several city board members.

"They are still a distraction to these boards," Ganz said. "We should remove them now, and I would be more than happy to bring some of them back."

The request centers on Dan Poitier, who has served on the Planning and Zoning Board for nearly a decade, Marta and Engardo Rivera of the Community Relations Board and Anthony Davis of the Civil Service Board.

All were named in the initial report compiled by auditing firm Kessler International, which recommended the findings be referred to the State Attorney's Office, Florida's attorney general and the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. With interim City Manager Burgess Hanson concluding that the first phase of Deerfield Beach's financial audit turned up possible criminal activity, the city has authorized a second audit.

The initial findings led city officials to place Community Development Division coordinators Debra Chatman and Stephanie McMillian on paid leave until the city reviews the audit's findings. No charges have been filed.

But some commissioners sounded uncomfortable removing only some board members who were named in the initial audit.

"They are accused, but not convicted," Vice Mayor Joe Miller said.

Kessler's nearly 200-page report found "failure and disregard of regulations and requirements" that were "indicative of illegal activity." Among the findings: payments greater than what regulations allow, false invoices for audits and payments off the books.

Citing findings that Kessler described as being "at the very least worrisome," commissioners approved spending $80,000 to examine purchasing and building divisons, specifically how contracts and permits were awarded.

"It's important to finish this, and then to move forward," Hanson said.


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