By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie was arrested Wednesday morning following his indictment by a statewide grand jury on a charge of perjury in an official proceeding. School Board General Counsel Barbara Myrick was also arrested following her indictment on a charge of unlawfully disclosing the grand jury’s proceedings.
Both were arrested by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents and booked at the Broward County Jail. The charges are third degree felonies. Each was released on their own recognizance.
The arrests stem from an ongoing Statewide Grand Jury oversight investigation into building departments at local school districts around the state. The grand jury was formed in 2019 and initially looked at school safety issues following the February 2018 massacre at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The arrests could lead the suspension of Runcie and Myrick from office.
While accusing Runcie and Myrick with specific crimes, the indictments released by the Florida Attorney General’s Office do not say what Runcie did to commit perjury, or what Myrick did to unlawfully disclose grand jury proceedings.
‘What did he do wrong?’
“What did he do wrong? It doesn’t answer that question,” said Fort Lauderdale attorney Michael Dutko, who with partner Jeremy Kroll will defend Runcie. “We are very concerned by that. As we sit here we don’t know what statement that was he made that is allegedly perjurious.”
According to the indictment, Runcie committed perjury during testimony during his two day appearance before the grand jury on March 31 and April 1.
Dutko said that when state prosecutors informed Runcie, 59, he would be charged “he was just shaking his head. He said, ‘I have no idea what they’re talking about.'”
Dutko added, “It is our perception all along that this was politically motivated.”
Broward School Board members have appeared as witnesses before the grand jury. Board Vice Chair Laurie Rich Levinson was represented by Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney J. David Bogenschutz.
“I can’t comment because this is grand jury protected,” said Bogenschutz. Asked if the other members were called to testfiy he said, “I believe they were.”
Levinson did not return a phone call requesting comment.
Bogenschutz also represents defendant Myrick, 72, who the indictment says unlawfully disclosed information about the grand jury’s “proceedings/and or identify of persons referred to or being investigated” between March 31 and April 14. Bogenschutz could not be immediately reached to comment on the charge against Myrick.
The statewide grand jury, impaneled by Gov. DeSantis a month after he took office, has a decidedly Broward bent. The presiding judge is Broward Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tuter, who signed the indictments. And last month, former Broward corruption prosecutor Tim Donnelly was hired as an assistant statewide prosecutor and legal adviser to the grand jury, court filings say.
In January, FDLE agents arrested former Broward County School Board Chief Information Officer Anthony Hunter on Jan. 12 following his indictment by the statewide grand jury. Hunter was charged with bypassing the bidding process for school equipment and steering business to a friend.
According to a joint investigation by FDLE and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General Investigation Services, from 2015 through the beginning of 2019, Hunter used his position as CIO of the BCSB to direct the purchase of thousands of Recordex interactive panels for Broward schools. Rather than allowing vendors to publicly bid on the job, Hunter intentionally bypassed the bidding process and steered the business to David Allen, a resident of Georgia. Hunter arranged for more than $17 million worth of sales, through Allen’s company, Education Consultants, Inc., also known as Edco.
During the time period that Edco received millions of dollars in business, Hunter and his family leased a large lake house from Allen. Allen ultimately sold the lake house to Hunter for approximately $150,000 below market value. While selling Recordex panels indirectly to the BCSB, Allen hired Brian Hunter, Anthony Hunter’s son, to work for Alertpoint, LLC, a separate business owned by Allen. Alertpoint ultimately hired Anthony Hunter as well. Additionally, Anthony Hunter utilized a Georgia car dealership to indirectly purchase two vehicles from Allen.
Hunter is charged with one count of unlawful compensation and one count of bid tampering, each second-degree felonies. Assistant Statewide Prosecutors Jonathan Bridges and Moses Aluicio are prosecuting the case.