FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The state's key witness testified Tuesday in the trial of the former president of the Broward Teachers Union.
Pat Santeramo is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in money, and he soon could learn his fate as the trial nears its end.
Invoice after invoice was under scrutiny in the courtroom Tuesday, all of which were signed by Santeramo.
"Was there a discussion about inflating invoices?" the prosecutor asked witness David Esposito.
"Yes, there was," Esposito said.
Esposito is the state's key witness and is accused of conspiring with Santeramo to pocket cash.
But the whole operation unraveled in 2011, when Santeramo resigned and was arrested.
Esposito was given immunity in exchange for his testimony.
"At some point he asked me to give him money for work that he was giving me for BTU kickbacks," Esposito said.
Prosecutors have tied at least $300,000 that they believe Santeramo stole in kickbacks and personal charges on company credit cards.
Esposito, a friend of Santeramo, owned a construction company and that business was solicited over and over again for repair work at BTU headquarters.
"I would show him what the cost was on the bills and we would inflate the bills to cover an amount of money that he would add to each invoice," Esposito said.
Esposito said he would pocket the excess cash from the inflated bills and give Santeramo the rest, in a way to avoid detection since the money was ultimately from teachers' union funds.
"I would pay it in cash over a period of time, not all in one lump sum," Esposito said.
"And where would you pay Mr. Santeramo the kickbacks in cash?" the prosecutor asked.
"Always at the BTU," Esposito said.
Esposito is expected to remain on the stand for much of Tuesday.