Stephanie Kraft guilty of official misconduct, cleared of all other charges

Former Broward County school board member accused of using position to help push construction project

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A former Broward County school board member has been found not guilty of all but one of the charges against her.

Stephanie Kraft was convicted Thursday of official misconduct, but she was acquitted of unlawful compensation, bribery and criminal conspiracy.

Kraft was accused of using her position to help two South Florida developers get their fee reduced. 

She cried as the verdict was read aloud in court.

Four years after she was removed from the school board, a jury took a little more than four hours to reach its decision.

Assistant state attorney Catherine Maus said she was "very happy with the jury's hard work."

"Mrs. Kraft knew what was going on and Mrs. Kraft agreed to help," prosecutor Catherine Maus told jurors during Thursday's closing arguments.

Kraft's husband, Mitch, worked as a consultant for developers Bruce and Shawn Chait, who were facing $500,000 in school district impact fees to build a massive housing development in Tamarac. Maus alleged that Bruce Chaits agreed to pay Mitch Kraft $10,000 if he could persuade his wife to place an item to waive those fees on the school board agenda.

"Stephanie Kraft had placed an item on an agenda before the Broward County school board that would give a tax break to certain developers that were building out in Tamarac," Kraft's attorney, Ken Padowitz, told Local 10 News.

Padowitz claimed there was no conspiracy and said Kraft had no authority to put anything on the agenda. The superintendent at the time, Jim Notter, testified to that during the trial. Padowitz claimed the prosecution's foundation of its case rested upon the testimony of two dirty developers who avoided jail time by admitting they paid off several elected officials in Broward County to push their housing development through.

Kraft asked the judge if she could remain free until her sentencing because her mother is ill, but her request was denied and she was led away in handcuffs. Instead, she'll remain in jail until her sentencing Dec. 22.

She faces up to five years in prison.

Her husband is also facing criminal charges but will be tried separately.

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