Felony charges were announced today for two former leaders of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, according to Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Tiffany Carr, 54, Port St. Joe, and Patricia Duarte, 57, Tallahassee are charged with one count each of organized scheme to defraud, grand theft and official misconduct, all felonies.
"The investigation shows Chief Executive Officer Carr and Chief Financial Officer Duarte conducted a scheme to fraudulently award themselves personal time off (PTO) using funds provided through grants intended to help fund domestic violence shelters across Florida," according to a statement from Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Duarte turned herself into Leon County Jail yesterday. An arrest warrant has been issued for Carr.
“These officials were entrusted to run an organization to assist those seeking a safe haven from abuse," said Moody. "Instead of ensuring state funds went to help those in need, they schemed together to steal more than $3.7 million for grossly inflated salaries and vacations. We previously took civil action to rid the organization’s bad management, and now we are filing criminal charges against these former officials.”
These officials were entrusted to run an organization to assist those seeking a safe haven from domestic violence. Instead of ensuring state funds went to help those in need, they schemed to steal more than $3.7 million for grossly inflated salaries and vacations—and we are now…
— AG Ashley Moody (@AGAshleyMoody) September 21, 2023
According to FDLE, the Office of Executive Investigations started the case in 2021 after inspectors received information from the Florida Office of the Chief Inspector General, Department of Children and Families and the Florida House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee.
"The investigation shows that Carr and Duarte submitted false quarterly reports, billed the state for vacant positions, and charged for services never provided. The ill-gotten funds were used for excessive bonus and leave payouts to Carr and Duarte in the amounts of $3.4 million to Carr and $291,000 for Duarte," according to a statement from FDLE.
The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence was a not for profit organization overseeing over $40 million in funding. In 2012, legislation was established making the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence the official organization in charge of distributing state and federal grants to Florida’s 42 domestic violence shelters. Its mission was “to create a violence free world by empowering women and children through the elimination of personal and institutional violence and oppression against all people. FCADV provides leadership, advocacy, education, training, technical assistance, public policy and development, and support to domestic violence center programs.”
In 2020, Florida ended its contact with FCADV and in 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order to dissolve the organization.
“Non-profit organizations exist to improve the lives of others, but during our investigation, it became clear the only thing these FCADV executives were serving were each other," said FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass. "Their selfishness and greed came at the expense of domestic violence victims who needed their organization the most. I appreciate the work of our agents and analysts, exploring years of documentation to detail these crimes as well as DCF who assisted on this case.”
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute this case.