Deerfield Beach Commissioner Sylvia Poitier has agreed to surrender at the Broward County Jail Wednesday to be arrested and booked on charges of falsifying official records, Broward Bulldog has learned.
The state charges, both misdemeanors, were filed yesterday at the Broward Court Clerk’s office. They follow a year-long Broward Sheriff’s Office investigation.
Many details about the charges were not immediately available because the charging document won’t be made public until Poitier’s arrest. But Broward Bulldog has learned they involve Poitier’s alleged falsification of disclosure documents – known as a Form 8B – that public officers must file when faced with voting on a measure in which they have a conflict of interest.
Assistant Broward State Attorney Spencer Multack, of the special prosecution unit, would not discuss the Poitier case Tuesday afternoon.
“I’d like to know how you heard,” he said.
Neither Poitier nor her Pompano Beach attorney, Johnny L. McCray Jr., returned phone calls seeking comment.
Poitier, 75, a Democrat who served on the county commission from 1986-1998, is a lifelong resident of Deerfield Beach. She was re-elected to her District 2 city commission seat last month. The Sun-Sentinel reported last week that she will marry her boyfriend, Daniel Norman Sr. on May 28.
Upon her arrest, Poitier’s political fate will rest with her fellow city commissioners, who could decide to suspend her from office. The governor’s office is not involved because no felony charge is involved.
Last fall, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general ordered Deerfield Beach’s Community Development Division to pay back $225,000 in grants after auditors found that Poitier and former Commissioner Gloria Battle violated federal rules intended to curb favoritism.
HUD intervened after the Kessler International forensic auditing firm, hired by the city, reported possible evidence of fraud, conflicts of interest and unaccounted-for money. A local blogger, Chaz Stevens, was also instrumental in focusing HUD’s attention on the city and law enforcement’s attention on Poitier.
HUD found the city had award tens of thousands of dollars in HUD funds to companies connected to Poitier and Battle: the Haitian American Consortium and the Westside Deerfield Businessmen Association.
Poitier voted to approve about $40,000 for the Haitian American Consortium, whose business address was the same as Poitier’s dry-cleaning store.
Poitier’s daughter was executive director of the Westside group. Poitier abstained from a vote to award it more than $200,000, but the relationship was not disclosed to HUD, the Sun-Sentinel reported in October.
According to the city’s web site, Poitier began her business career in 1956 by opening Deerfield Cleaners and Laundry.