Former Broward Teachers Union president sentenced to 5 years in prison

Pat Santeramo convicted of fraud charges in January

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A former Broward Teachers Union president convicted on fraud charges was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.

"I regret the heartache and the hardships that this situation has caused to those I love (and) to those who have stood by me throughout the years," Pat Santeramo said.

Santeramo 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.

"He was the gatekeeper of a multimillion-dollar budget from the dues of the Broward teachers, and that money was going nowhere without him knowing exactly where it was going," prosecutor David Schulson told Local 10 News.

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 prison term, Santeramo will be on probation for five years. As a special condition of his probation, the State Attorney's Office said he must pay restitution of $163,500 to two insurance companies.

Santeramo's wife spoke in court ahead of his sentencing, asking the judge for leniency for the sake of their children and grandchildren.

"I fear that when reality sets in and my husband is remanded into custody, my soul will break," she said.

Santeramo faced up to 30 years in prison and the state had asked the judge that he be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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