Can Satz Prove The Charge Against Kraft?


Here is the number one rule of criminal justice: 

It doesn’t matter what you did.  It only matters what can be proved.

State Attorney Mike Satz’s bulldogs charged School Board member Stephanie Kraft and her husband, Mitch Kraft, with unlawful compensation, bribery, official misconduct and conspiracy.

I read the arrest affidavit.  I see one thing missing from it.

Nowhere does it allege that Stephanie Kraft knew that her husband was getting money from the corrupt developer Bruce Chait.

No mention of bank accounts.  No mention of discussions or e-mails about the money.  No mention of anything connecting Stephanie with knowledge of the money.  

I see Stephanie’s defense taking shape already.

It is not a crime to help Chait.  As odious as Bruce and Shawn Chait’s  proposal to pave over a Tamarac golf course was, Chait was a constituent. Stephanie could argue she was just helping a constituent.  

It is the money that makes it a crime.

If Stephanie knew about the money, why isn’t that fact in the affidavit?

If Stephanie didn’t know about the money, can the prosecutors prove intent and especially conspiracy?

Just because her husband took money doesn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she knew about it.  If that was the case, every drug dealer’s wife would be in jail.

I actually assume Stephanie did know about the money.  But remember what I wrote at the beginning:

It doesn’t matter what she did.  It only matters what can be proved.

Now Mitch Kraft, a member of the Florida Bar and a former city attorney, is another matter.  It is specifically alleged in the complaint that Mitch  accepted money to “help” with the School Board, i.e., influence his wife.

I’m not excusing Stephanie’s actions. They are sleazy beyond belief and she doesn’t belong on the School Board.  

But I am wondering based on the affidavit if the prosecutors will be able to prove that Stephanie knew about the money…and thus participated in bribery.  They may have more evidence they will roll out in the future.

It’s a question a judge and a jury will have to answer.

The only mention of the money in the complaint against Stephanie Kraft.  Where is the proof she knew her husband was getting it?

(Click on document to enlarge it)

The rest of Stephanie’s arrest affidavit is here at

14 Responses to “Can Satz Prove The Charge Against Kraft?”

  1. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Smoking Gun: Kraft’s Email To Garretson Regarding Hubbie’s DeveloperBy Bob Norman, Fri., Oct. 23 2009 @ 9:24AM

    It’s a small email, but it looms large in the federal investigation of Broward County School Board Member Stephanie Kraft.

    The email comes from Kraft to Broward School Board Deputy Superintendent Michael Garretson regarding a $507,000 reduction in mitigation fees owed the district by developer Prestige Homes. Kraft was pushing behind the scenes to give Prestige Homes the break and to make sure it was done on July 24, 2007.

    What Garretson claims he didn’t know at the time — and what he was “shocked” to learn recently — was that Kraft’s husband, Mitch Kraft, had been hired by Prestige Homes for the purpose of obtaining the fee reduction from the school board.

    Here’s the email:

    Message Jul 11, 2007 1:05 PM

    From: Stephanie A. Kraft

    To: Mike Garretson, Susan A. Teich

    Cc: Kim R. Simmonds

    Subject: agenda item for 7-24

    What agenda item # will that item be that we spoke about yesterday regarding the development on the golf course?


    Stephanie Arma Kraft, Esq.

    School Board Member, District 4

    (754) 321-2004

    Now it may seem like a harmless but it packs a serious punch. Notice that Kraft refers to a conversation that Kraft had with Garretson about the Prestige Homes matter. We don’t know what was said during that conversation. Also notice Kraft uses. In effect, she phrases her order to put the item on the agenda in the form of a serious punch. Notice the language. Kraft, in effect, phrases her order to put the item on the agenda in the form of a question. She doesn’t ask if the $507,000 break — from $1.7 million to $1.2 million — to Prestige Homes will be on the agenda, she asks what agenda number it will be.

    And we know that that is exactly how Garretson interpreted the email. He made a visit to Growth Management Director Chris Akakbosu’s office and ordered him to put the Prestige Homes item on the July 24 agenda. According to school board records, Akabsosu told Garretson that Prestige had not met the deadline to be placed on the agenda and that it would be impossible to go through the normal process for the item.

    Here’s what Akagbosu wrote in a memo at the time (the italics are mine):

    I proceeded to tell [Garretson] about the problems we have been having … and that we were following our process regarding the receipt date of request and have not even completed nor mailed our correspondence/report regarding the revised proposal back to [Prestige Homes],” Akagbosu explained in the email. “Also, that the cut off for submission of Items for the July 24, 2007 meeting had passed, and as such, the item would not be scheduled for APG and the Executive Leadership Team meeting. Regardless, he directed that I should schedule the Item.

    Kraft also sent the same email she sent Garretson to receptionist Bette Ray, who worked under Facilities Management Director Thomas Coates. We also know from school board records that Kraft’s husband, in addition to apparently lobbying his own wife on the matter, contacted School Board attorney Alan Gabriel about the Prestige Homes fee reduction.

    In other words, the Krafts utilized a multi-pronged approach in making sure the developer received the half million dollar break and that it was done quickly (Garretson told me on Tuesday that the haste apparently had to do with a deal closing that looming for the developer). It’s still not known how much money Mitch Kraft was paid by the developer.

    While Garretson says he didn’t know at the time that Mitch Kraft had been hired by Prestige Homes, Akagbosu and Coates both knew it and conversed about it in their own emails at the time.

    On top of all this, Kraft made a phone call to Akagbosu just last month, on September 29, when the fee, which Prestige Homes still hasn’t paid, ballooned back up to over $1.8 million. This prompted Prestige Homes owner Bruce Chait to contact Stephanie Kraft and also prompted the developer to complain to Coates that he had hired Mitch Kraft to make sure the fee was reduced. You can read all about that here.

    It all adds up to one of the most brazen corruption cases in Broward memory.


    All this is true.But where is the evidence Stephanie Kraft knew that her husband was being paid. This e-mail changes nothing and Garretson is dead. As I wrote when he died, his being unable to testify harms the prosecution.
    Again, I’m sure she did know about the money. But me being sure and proving it to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt are different standards.

  2. Law Man says:

    Let me say first that I believe Mitch Kraft in particular and Stephanie Kraft are scum. That said, you have written a very intersting analysis of the arrest without the prejudging and bias I read in the other media. Are you a lawyer?

  3. Frank White says:

    @ Charlotte: That is speculation upon speculation. Is it possible that Mr. Garretson was scrambling to complete something that was supposed to be done? The memo from Mr. Akakbosu’s office states THE school board was slacking.

    Is it even the slightest possibility that she was doing her job for her constituent by asking why the SB has taken forever in completing and mailed their correspondence/report? The school district is not known for their promptness and accuracy.

  4. Frank White says:

    Sorry that should read “The memo from Mr. Akakbosu’s office states THE school DISTRICT was slacking”

  5. NoseBleedSeats says:

    You’re correct Buddy – it doesn’t matter what is allegeded, only what can be proven and so far Mr. Satz is 0 for 2. He hasn’t even made it to a jury yet. Can he put away Atkins-Grad with Chait testimony? Can he put away anyone with Chait testimony? A good case starts with reliable witnesses and testimony and he’s banking on the Chaits? He’s banking on a few others they did business with to put all these peole away? I’d be happy to sit at the poker table with Mr. Satz and his crew, bluffing scumbags and perjurors is one thing, but convincing a jury in light of the best defense money can buy is a whole other story.

  6. Charlotte's Web says:

    Someday Ms. Greenbarg and her parrot, Bob Norman, will learn that this country has the rule of law. People are innocent until proven guilty. You have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that that someone committed a crime. Charlotte and Norman would prefer a kangaroo court hang them before the trial.

  7. Willie Stark says:

    Why is it that nearly all our crusading politicians end up getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Is the temptation always too much ? Is it in their DNA ? Is it even possible for someone to stay in elected office without being compromised ? No wonder so many people do not exercise their right to vote when the choice is which one of the candidates is the lesser crook ? We are no better than a third world country here in Broward when it comes to political corruption.

  8. Hammerhead says:


    When Mitch contacted Fink and Stephanie to get this item put on the agenda, he was doing so as a consultant (employee) of Prestige homes. He used his relationship with the influential elected official, his wife Stephanie to cause the item with a $500k reduction to Prestige.

    Okabosu and Coates documented the Mitch Kraft relationship when it was brought to their attention. When it was thought that the issue was resolved, but still had kinks, Stephanie called Okabosu to ask why the item had not yet been put on the agenda. That lead to a Stephanie Kraft conversation with Garretson about the “hot item” and the item was hastily added to the agenda. The timeline in the indictment infers (not proves) that both Krafts were aware of Mitch’s employment arrangement and mission.

    I think a better question for you to ask is, why would Stephanie step in and assist in doing Mitch’s job when she called Okabosu to demand that J-15 be included on the July 24 agenda? That action implies that Stephanie may as well have been working for Prestige, otherwise Mitch was being paid to make that call. It is because in an employment arrangement, it is understood that one has to deliver in order to be paid. Any reasonable and prudent person can get their heads around that.

    Good analysis Charlotte. Albeit loaded with circumstantial evidence (some call it speculation but not me), it is a clear path of all of the participants input and an understanding of the ultimate outcome. I think that Stephanie’s knowledge of an employment arrangement is proof that payment was the intended end result and that is how she knowingly and willingly abused her position of power to expedite the agenda item to save Prestige $500k (Mitch’s intended deliverable in the employment arrangement with Prestige).

  9. Roy L. Fuchs says:

    As inept as Satz’s office has been, 1) the arrest affidavit was granted by a judge, and 2).so what? Kraft is dirty, and the arrest (and the fact that she isnt running for reelection) taints her and Mitchy for the forseeable future. If they beat the rap, they’re lucky but persona non grata, if they dont, its the GrayBar Hotel. Either way, justice is served

  10. Jafo says:

    in order for this item to get that far along in the land use amendment process for the city of Tamarac and Broward County, the Prestige Homes lobbyists would be known. Once impact fees and associated costs were tallied, usually with the participation of the applicant, their attorneys and/or lobbyists, Prestige must have surmised they needed a reduction, particularly school board. I was almost certain the Sun-Sentinel write-ups by Scott Wyman had covered this back in 2007.


    Actually, I wrote some of the stories.

    Wyman covered some of the investigation into the Chaits after I left the paper.

    Other reporters covered the project in Tamarac and at the county commission, too.

    I don’t know what Chaits lobbyist knew, but she has been talking to prosecutors, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

  11. GOPapa says:

    The Democratic machine in Broward is a little club of corrupt office holders. It is refershing to see Satz try to clean it up.

  12. To GOPapa says:

    GOPapa must be one of “Satzy’s” boys. Or else he is blind and can’t see that “Satzy” created this mess by looking the other way for so long.

  13. The Krafts: Part Two : says:

    […] October 5, 2010To GOPapa on Can Satz Prove The Charge Against Kraft? […]

  14. Jafo says:

    Mr. Nevins your reporting was astute and right on always when at the s-s. My mistake on the Scott Wyman coverage as he followed up in the years after your departure.
    Precisely why the tenure of reporters (and their files) must continue in Broward as the history holds the key and selective memory seems to be the politico’s game.