Former Broward County school board member Kraft denied bond

Kraft convicted of official misconduct

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Broward County judge Tuesday denied a motion made by former school board member Stephanie Kraft to allow her out of jail, sending a jovial and smiling Kraft back to the cell for at least another week prior to her sentencing hearing.

Kraft was convicted of official misconduct last week, but she was acquitted of unlawful compensation, bribery and criminal conspiracy charges.

Defense attorney Ken Padowitz argued that Kraft shouldn't be held in jail prior to the hearing, saying that her conviction on an official misconduct charge doesn't warrant pre-sentence incarceration.

Padowitz told Judge Matthew Destry that Kraft wasn't a flight risk and should be released to be with her mother, who he said is dying in hospice care.

Destry quickly denied Padowitz's motion and ordered Kraft back to jail, saying the defense could save its arguments for next week's sentencing hearing.

"Your motion is denied, sir," Destry told Padowitz in court. "If you take issue with it, there's an appellate court for that very reason."

With that, Kraft's family members and supporters -- which included sitting state Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, former state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, school board activist Mary Fertig and lobbyist Ali Waldman -- exited the courtroom presumably to return for that hearing, scheduled for Dec. 22.

"I think she's a good person with a good character, and I think the ruling is unfair and unjustified," Bogdanoff told Local 10 News. 

Kraft, shackled and in a brown jail jumpsuit, allegedly used the power of her elected office to help father-son developers Bruce and Shawn Chait get a $500,000 break on school board fees in exchange for $10,000 paid to her husband Mitch Kraft, who also faces charges and is expected to go to trial early next year.

Suspended Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco also faces a corruption trial on charges she voted for the Chaits' controversial golf course development in her city in exchange for about $20,000 in campaign contributions.

Kraft, Bogdanoff, Fertig and Waldman were all members of the so-called "Steel Magnolias," a group of political women who at one time wielded great power in Broward County. Kraft is the second politician backed by the group to be convicted of corruption charges, following former Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Cindi Hutchinson, who served nearly three months in jail after her conviction on unlawful compensation and official misconduct charges. Kraft faces up to five years in prison.

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