Investigation: Ex-Coconut Creek commissioner lived outside city while in office

Drivers license, tax, postal and SunPass data proved longtime official actually lived in Fort Myers

Former Coconut Creek Commissioner Lou Sarbone (City of Coconut Creek)

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – A Broward County investigation revealed that a longtime Coconut Creek city commissioner resided outside of the city while holding his seat, officials said in a news release Thursday.

Instead, investigators found that Commissioner Lou Sarbone actually lived on the opposite coast of Florida.

An investigation from the Broward Office of the Inspector General determined that Sarbone moved to Fort Myers in July 2020 after selling his house in Coconut Creek, yet remained in office and swore to the Broward County Supervisor of Elections that he lived in a Coconut Creek apartment. The news release also said that Sarbone voted in two Broward elections.

“These constituted a violation of the city charter’s requirement that commissioners remain primarily domiciled in the district they represent and false oaths in connection with voting, third degree felony violations of Florida election law,” the release states.

Sarbone resigned from the commission April 1, 15 days after county investigators interviewed him. Sarbone’s LinkedIn profile says he had served on the commission since March of 2001.

The OIG based its finding on multiple pieces of evidence, including listing his Fort Myers home on his driver’s license, directing certain mail to the home and filing for and receiving a homestead exemption in Lee County.

Investigators also looked at Sarbone’s SunPass data, finding that transponders issued to Sarbone and his wife were in South Florida less than 29 percent of the time and never more than 12 days at a time in a 573-day stretch, the release said.

Officials determined that one transponder came into Broward from Collier County, which is between Lee and Broward counties, on the day before or the day of a Coconut Creek city commission meeting roughly 26 times.

“The OIG is referring the matter to the Broward State Attorney and the Florida Division of Elections for whatever action those agencies deem appropriate,” the release concludes.

About the Author:

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.