Grand jury leads to school board member's sex life

Published On: Sep 18 2012 06:10:37 PM EDT
Updated On: Sep 19 2012 12:52:14 PM EDT

Agency learned that former School Board Member Jennifer Gottlieb had affairs with district bankers.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -

A grand jury investigation into corruption at the Broward County School Board led agents to an unlikely subject -- a school board member's sex life.

READ: Bob Norman's blog on Gottlieb

Former School Board Member Jennifer Gottlieb, who resigned last year, had extramarital affairs with two high-ranking Citigroup bankers who did business with the school board, including financing millions in public bonds used to build schools, according to investigative reports obtained by Local 10's Bob Norman.

"I think it's a very bad issue of conflict of interest there," said Pete Brewer, a grand jury witness. "She is evidently dating the guy and she's voting on his contracts, which is wrong."

Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators wrote that "Gottlieb at no time reported her relationship with [the Citigroup bankers] to the board and continued to cast votes on matters concerning [Citigroup] that came before the board."

"It's clearly a violation of one's public office," said Robert Jarvis, an ethics professor at Nova Southeastern University. "It's official misconduct."

Both Citigroup bankers -- Rick Patterson, of Tampa, and Michael Baldwin, of Orlando, -- admitted to the extramarital affairs in sworn interviews. One broke down and cried during an interview, saying he and Gottlieb were in love like "high school kids" and had been romantically linked for three years.

"You shake your head and you go, 'What were they thinking? In what universe could they have thought this was appropriate behavior?'" said Jarvis.

Reports indicate Gottlieb, who is married to a Broward County Judge, actively concealed the relationships from the public by using personal email accounts and prepaid phones.

"At the moment you talk about intentional action to conceal and defraud the public, really, it's not an ethical matter anymore. It's a criminal matter," said Jarvis.

But the FDLE and grand jury didn't indict because there is no specific law forbidding voting on public matters involving intimate friends

"There ought to be a law," said Brewer.

Gottlieb hadn't returned a phone call to Local 10 for comment. Her husband filed for divorce in June.

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