The Krafts: Part Two


Hyperventilating Joe McCarthy-style rants on other blogs have convicted and locked up Stephanie and Mitch Kraft already.

Maybe these bloggers know something I don’t.  Because I still believe prosecutors will have a tough time proving this case.

I see two big roadblocks in this case:

(1) Prosecutors have not said whether they can prove Stephanie Kraft knew her husband was getting paid by developers.  

(2) A key witness in the case, construction director Michael Garretson,  has died.

These are not silly excuses dreamed up by lawyers.

This is the rule of law.  This is proving a charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Let me give a little legal lesson to these other bloggers:

Public corruption cases are extremely hard to prosecute. 

In murder or robbery, it is clear a crime was committed.  All that must be done is prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

Public corruption cases are a two-step process. Prosecutors must first prove that a crime has been committed.  Then they must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

By the way, I discussed my views with three lawyers before I posted my first story on the Krafts yesterday.  These lawyers agreed with me.

This from a veteran South Florida journalist who e-mailed me today: 

“I covered several bribery trials before coming to Fort Lauderdale and the state lost all of them for the EXACT reason you give today in your blog: it couldn’t show “guilty knowledge”  In one case, grand jurors considering indictments of a county commissioner even asked the state attorney if he had proof the commissioner knew the money was being put in his bank account and the state attorney said he didn’t.

“The two grand jurors who questioned the lack of proof were outvoted and an indictment was issued, but the judge dismissed the case during trial.  The two grand jurors had more sense than the state attorney. (I had sources inside the grand jury, if you were wondering).”

I wish State Attorney Mike Satz all the luck in the world.  I commend him for taking this and other cases to court. He is doing what we pay him to do, which is prosecute public corruption.

I think the Krafts are most likely guilty.

But Satz would be the first to admit that public corruption cases are far from slam dunks.  Very far from slam dunks. 

Now Satz’s hard work begins.  Because he knows better than most, a charge is not a conviction. 

And Satz knows that decision about Kraft’s future is now in the hands of a judge. And possibly a jury.

And not in the hands of those who write digital graffiti on the Internet. 

One more thing:  Hats off to the school system’s auditors who discovered much of wrongdoing being investigated today and brought it to Satz’s attention.

The auditors now report to the superintendent.  They need to be independent, reporting maybe to a group of outside citizens.

They are among the only folks in the school system who seem to be safeguarding our tax money.


The Sun-Sentinel’s Mike Mayo had a lot to say about the case against the Krafts today here.

6 Responses to “The Krafts: Part Two”

  1. Hammerhead says:

    Your bias is showing Buddy. But even a broken clock is right twice a day. By the way, I thought that the Real Estate Dept. staff brought this information forward. It seems they deserve the credit and not the auditors on this Kraft arrest.

    In fact, if my memory serves me right, this was a Bob Norman story that broke the Kraft fee reduction for Prestige. Am I off base here?

    Please don’t turn your blog into a Steel Magnolia shield. I wonder if any other Steel Magnolias will face charges. Any thoughts?


    Maybe you can’t process this, but I will write it again: I suspect that the Krafts did what was charged.

    Proving it in a court is another matter.

  2. Lpeerman33063 says:

    Guilty or innocent a lot of people have known this was coming and until it did Ms Kraft was still a School Board member wielding School Board member power. As of yesterday her role as a School Board member ended along with her power. Maybe that is what people are hyperventilating about.
    I personally do not think she will go to jail(even made bets)probably not for the same reasons you have mentioned tho.

  3. Lady Law says:

    You are right. The case seems weak from the affidavit.

  4. Roy L. Fuchs says:

    It is my understanding that the arrest affidavit has one purpose: to convince a judge that there is probable cause to warrant an arrest. Apparently, as “weak” as the arrest affidavit is in your eyes, a judge felt that it was strong enough, that there was probable cause to warrant an arrest. In the two to three years it takes to get to trial, the SAO will have all the bullets it needs to go to trial, and knowing this, Mitch and Stephie will plea well before then. Because you are correct, Buddy, “the Krafts did what was charged.”

  5. Doctor Joe says:

    The Krafts are obviously guilty, just as the Coral Springs two were guilty of Sunshine Law violations. I agree with Buddy that proving it is another matter.
    Even if they are acquitted, their lives are ruined. They have lost the ability to ever hold their heads up in public because they are viewed as corrupt individuals by all. That punishment will continue, regardless of whether they are convicted or not.

  6. Lpeerman33063 says:

    I am not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV so I have a few questions
    maybe one of your posters can answer for me.

    1. Was it illegal for the Chaits to hire Mitch?
    2. Was it illegal for the Chaits to ask Mitch to see if the item could be moved forward on the agenda?
    3. Was it illegal for Mitch to ask Stephanie to see if she could get the item moved forward?
    4. Was it illegal for Stephanie to try to get the item moved to a different date?
    5. Because her husband asked to have the item moved, should she have filed a conflict of interest?
    6. By not filing a conflict of interest if she should have. Is that a crime?
    7. Was it illegal for the Chaits to pay Mitch for a service he provided?