Coral Springs officers charged with grand theft, organized scheme to defraud

Officers, former FOP Executive Boards members charged

From left: Douglas Williams, Sherry Williams, Michael Hughes
From left: Douglas Williams, Sherry Williams, Michael Hughes

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Coral Springs police officers and former members of the Fraternal Order of Police executive boards were charged this week on grand theft and organized scheme to defraud charges.

The Broward County state attorney's office announced it's filing criminal charges against three of the former leaders of the Coral Springs Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 87.

A few months after a new executive board took over the administration of the FOP in January 2012, members discovered suspicious business practices and transactions in the bank accounts. Officials said they also discovered that the lodge's tax returns contained fictitious figures and were not accurate.

After consultation with their accountant and attorneys, the board hired a forensic accountant to conduct a review of the books. His findings were that from January 2006 through December 2011 there were excessive amounts of cash withdrawals, charges at restaurants or bars, retailers, grocery stores and other miscellaneous stores that were not supported by receipts or invoices, authorities said.

The lodge executive board held an emergency meeting to review the information and evidence. Based on the advice of their attorneys and the findings of the accountant, they voted unanimously to initiate a criminal investigation.

Former president and vice president Douglas Williams, 56, was charged with grand theft (third-degree felony). Authorities said another former president and vice president, Michael Hughes, 41, was charged with one count of organized scheme to defraud (second-degree felony) and four counts of grand theft (third-degree felonies).

Authorities said former treasurer Sherry Williams, 48, who is married to Douglas Williams, was charged with one count of organized scheme to defraud (first-degree felony), one count of grand theft (second-degree felony) and five counts of grand-theft (third-degree felonies).

The members of the FOP said they are deeply disappointed by the actions of the former officers.

"In the law enforcement community, we consider ourselves brothers and sisters of our fellow co-workers, and to discover that our leaders were stealing money from us is such a huge betrayal of trust," said current FOP president Glenn Matonak.

Since the new board took over in 2012, the lodge said it now has new procedures in place to ensure that this kind of embezzlement does not occur again.

"I hope that the black eye caused by these few people does not hurt the FOP," said Matonak. "We have 200 active police officers in our organization and over 100 retired officers, the people that committed these crimes do not represent who we are as an organization. We help out the community and are invested in seeing this city and its residents thrive. We discovered that there was theft of our money and it was the board's fiduciary responsibility to have those responsible held accountable for their actions. We pursued this case like any other. There was a crime and those that committed it must be brought to justice."

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