Saturday, October 01, 2011

Assistant Miami Fire Chief Veldora Arthur found guilty of mortgage fraud
Veldora Arthur
Veldora Arthur was once the highest ranking female in the City of Miami Fire Department.

This weekend she's sitting in a jail cell in the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami where she's known simply as Inmate #96343-004.

Just a few weeks ago - on September 17 - as a part of its series on the burden large pensions place on municipal budgets, the Miami Herald reported that Arthur, a 44 year-old City of Miami assistant fire chief, had transitioned into retirement with a pension of $166,687.

As a participant in the Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP, Arthur - and other City of Miami employees in the DROP program - remain on the job, earning both a salary and a pension benefit that is held in a savings account.

However, it might be a while before Arthur sees any of that money.

Yesterday, Arthur and two co-defendants were found guilty in Miami federal court of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, "The conspiracy and mail fraud counts carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment. All defendants were remanded into the custody of the United States Bureau of Prisons following their convictions."

The press release continues: "Arthur, charged and convicted of Counts 1, 3, and 5, was an Executive Assistant to the Fire Chief in the City of Miami Fire Department who served as a straw buyer. Arthur received approximately $317,000 in fraud proceeds in less than a month."

The Straw Buyer blog broke the story of the indictment of Arthur back in February of this year. Yesterday The Straw Buyer was also the first to report on Arthur's conviction.

Shortly after Arthur's indictment, Michael Putney, on his Sunday morning show on Channel 10, cited Arthur as a "glaring example of a government employee whose pay and benefits just don't add up."
My concern is Ms. Arthur's salary and benefits.

Now, she's been in the fire department for 25 years and evidently has done a good job so no one would deny her a good salary and generous benefits.

But how about a salary of $184,000 and a total benefits package of close to $300,000?

You heard that right. An assistant Miami fire chief gets nearly $300,000 a year? Unbelievable. No wonder the City of Miami is nearly broke.

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