Two Citigroup bankers who profited from Broward School Board contracts have admitted to sexual affairs with a married former school board member who reportedly failed to disclose the relationships.
Jennifer Gottlieb, who resigned suddenly last year, conducted affairs with married Citigroup bankers Rick Patterson of Tampa and Michael Baldwin of Orlando, according to recently obtained sworn statements the men gave the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The testimony was first reported by Local10.
The FDLE was investigating alleged corruption in Broward County when the probe took a turn toward Gottlieb's bedroom. The reports indicate that in order to keep the relationships from the public record, she used private email accounts and prepaid cell phones replaced every few months. Family court records show her husband, Broward Judge Ken Gottlieb, filed for divorce in June.
"Baldwin stated he and Gottlieb were aware of the problems stemming from a public official having a personal relationship with a vendor and the perception that gives the public," read one of the interview reports, which said Baldwin "broke down in tears," telling investigators he and Gottlieb are "in love like two high school kids."
Citibank was contracted to help Broward issue bonds funding millions in new school construction -- business which was voted on by Gottlieb and the board without her disclosing any conflict of interest to her peers.
Patterson told investigators his his sexual relationship with Jennifer Gottlieb lasted only for a few months in late summer 2007, after Citi was awarded a contract, but Baldwin said his affair with her lasted about three years from December 2007. It ended in early 2011 when he received a subpoena from investigators during a rendezvous with Gottlieb at a Hampton Inn in Tamarac, and covered a period during which the board voted at least twice on matters involving the bank.
Gottlieb resigned her post in August 2011, more than a year after emails revealing the romance with Patterson were published at Broward Palm Beach New Times:
"I will try to call you when I'm un-supervised if you know what I mean," Gottlieb wrote Patterson at one point. "Miss talking to ya! Just a heads up, tomorrow will be difficult, at least until the afternoon. But I'm sure I will b able to squeeze you in somewhere! So for now, your imagination will have to hold you over."
"I hope we can talk soon," Patterson responded. "In the mean time, you've been wonderfully naughty in my imagination : )."
It's a taxpayer's nightmare -- an elected leader in bed with someone trying to make money from the public trough.
Gottlieb, for her part, has denied any conflict of interest on votes cast. Local10 reports she was not indicted after the FDLE investigation, though an expert questions the agency's decision.
"At the moment you talk about intentional action to conceal and defraud the public, really, it's not an ethical matter anymore. It's a criminal matter," said [Nova Southeastern University ethics professor Robert] Jarvis.
But the FDLE and grand jury didn't indict because there is no specific law forbidding voting on public matters involving intimate friends.
Of course, corruption is no new thing in South Florida politics --in fact, the state was named the most corrupt in the country-- and neither are extramarital affairs.
In 2007, then Miami-Dade Schools associate superintendent Alberto Carvalho was allegedly involved with then-Miami Herald education reporter Tania deLuzuriaga. When emails hinting at a relationship surfaced in 2008, the reporter left her current job at the Boston Globe.
But it's not just the elected officials. In 2009, it was revealed that the head of the Hialeah budget department, Alex Vega, was having an affair with an internal auditor. A nasty scene ensued when Vega’s now ex-wife caught the pair, and Mayor Julio Robaina was accused of showing favoritism when he moved Vega’s lover into a higher paying gig in another department.
One of the most notorious sex scandals in South Florida occured during the trial of the "Godmother of Cocaine,” trafficker Griselda Blanco. Her drug runner, Charles Cosby, and enforcer, Jorge “Rivi” Ayala, claimed they had sex and phone sex, respectively, with a secretary in the district attorney’s office in the '90s. The allegations discredited the prosecution’s case and led to Blanco’s release and deportation to Colombia in 2004.