FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Former Broward Teachers Union president Pat Santeramo was sentenced Friday in federal court to 18 months in prison for his involvement in a scheme to defraud the union of more than $300,000.
Judge William Zloch departed from the plea agreement guidelines by making the sentence consecutive to Santeramo's 5-year state sentence, instead of concurrent.
He also ordered him to pay $93,000 in restitution, which Santeramo has already paid, and a $4,000 fine.
Both the U.S. prosecutor and Santeramo's attorney appeared a bit thrown by the judge's decision.
"Mr. Santeramo fully understood the potential for a sentence," Santeramo's attorney, Ben Kuehne, said. "He knew the ability of the judge to impose a consecutive sentence, so that was not a surprise, although the recommendation of the United States government and Mr. Santeramo to the judge was a concurrent sentence. How that is impacted in real time remains to be seen. It still seems very likely that the intention of the parties and (Broward County) Judge Jeffrey Levenson to impose concurrent time can be achieved over time, but that remains to be seen."
"Anything you want to say to the teachers of Broward County?" Local 10 News reporter Todd Tongen asked Santeramo.
"No comment. No comment at all," he said.
Santeramo was sentenced last week by Levenson to 5 years in prison.
He was convicted Jan. 10 on eight of the nine charges against him, including theft, money laundering, illegal campaign contributions and organized scheme to defraud. He was acquitted of one count of theft involving a gas card.
Prosecutors claimed that Santeramo inflated invoices on work done at the union and split the excess cash with a construction company owner, who was given immunity for testifying against the longtime BTU president.
After his state and federal prison terms, Santeramo will be on probation for five years. As a special condition of his probation in Broward County, the State Attorney's Office said he must pay restitution of $163,500 to two insurance companies.
Santeramo faced up to 30 years in prison.