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Runcie’s arrest linked to testimony about public corruption case, prosecutors say

On Monday, the state responded to Runcie’s motion to dismiss the case accusing him of lying about his conversations with witnesses in Anthony Hunter’s case.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The members of the School Board of Broward County are preparing to meet on Tuesday to discuss Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie’s situation, as he faces a perjury charge related to a public corruption case.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers arrested Runcie, 59, on Wednesday. Investigators accused Runcie of lying to a state grand jury while testifying under oath on March 31 and April 1.

Runcie is facing a charge of perjury in an official proceeding. On Monday, the state responded to Runcie’s motion to dismiss the case accusing him of lying about his conversations with witnesses in Anthony Hunter’s case.

Hunter, Broward schools’ former chief information officer, was accused of bypassing the bidding process for school equipment and steering business to a generous friend. He was arrested on Jan. 12 for allegedly “rigging the process of awarding piggyback purchase contracts.” His case is pending.

According to Prosecutor Richard W. Mantei, who wrote the state’s response, Runcie contacted witnesses in Hunter’s case on March 29 to discuss “piggyback contracts” and “post-board memos.” He denied having done so during his testimony.

“Others may be willing to simply overlook multiple barefaced falsehoods and obstructive statements under oath by defendant [Runcie] the ... grand jury was not,” Mantei said.

The grand jury was investigating compliance with school safety laws, the alleged misuse of state funds designated for school safety measures, and whether officials are underreporting incidents of criminal activity in schools to the department of education.

The push for improvements on schools’ safety started after a former 19-year-old student, who is now 22 years old, used a Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II semi-automatic rifle to kill 17 and wound 17 on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Two of the nine members of the School Board of Broward County lost relatives during the massacre: Lori Alhadeff and Debra Hixon.

Hixon’s husband, Chris Hixon, a 27-year U.S. Navy veteran, was the athletic director and wrestling coach at MSD. He died while trying to disarm the shooter. He was 49.

Alhadeff’s 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa Alhadeff, was killed in room 1216 during her English class. The ninth-grade student was a midfielder and the captain of the Parkland Soccer Club.

FDLE officers arrested Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie and BCPS Attorney Barbara Myrick. (Broward Sheriff's Office)

In another case related to Runcie’s and Hunter’s cases, FDLE officers arrested Barbara Myrick, the School Board of Broward County’s attorney. Investigators accused her of an alleged unlawful disclosure related to the state grand jury’s proceedings on March 31 and April 14.

According to Mantei, Myrick contacted witnesses in Hunter’s case on March 31 also to discuss “piggyback contracts” and “post-board” memos.

“Phone records substantiate these phone calls, as well as calls between Myrick and counsel for defendant [Runcie] on the evening of March 31 and the morning of April 1,” Mantei wrote, adding that Runcie stated that Myrick had disclosed to him other witnesses who had been summoned.

According to Troy Walker, FDLE Miami Regional Operations Center Special Agent in Charge, Hunter’s “backdoor dealings” from 2015 to the beginning of 2019, “steered” the purchase of thousands of Recordex interactive panels to David Allen.

Hunter allegedly arranged for more than $17 million worth of sales, through Allen’s company, Education Consultants, Inc., also known as Edco. In exchange, Allen sold Hunter a lake home for about $150,000 below the market value and two vehicles, prosecutors said.

Allen also hired Hunter’s son, Brian Hunter, and eventually Hunter to work for his business Alertpoint, LLC, prosecutors said. Hunter faces one count of unlawful compensation and one count of bid tampering, each second-degree felonies.

The Florida Supreme Court set up the grand jury. Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office is prosecuting the cases. Runcie and Myrick are set to appear in court in May.

STATE’S RESPONSE


About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.