FORT LAUDERDALE, Fl. (April 6) —
A scathing report that Florida Department of Law Enforcement manager Laura Barfield used her state-issued car to carry on an affair and charged thousands in personal expenses to her state credit card.
Barfield was the head of Florida’s alcohol-testing program and an expert witness in DUI cases.
For over 10 years while at FDLE, Barfield appeared in courtrooms across the state, while she was misusing her government issued automobile to travel out of the way and have overnight liasions with her married ex-boyfriend, Eber Brown, former Deputy County Administrator of Citrus County.
The FDLE internal report found Barfield’s deceptions unraveled with an anonymous letter. That letter alleged that she misused her state-assigned vehicle to facilitate a personal relationship while traveling to and from court appearances.
Barfield saw Brown as much as two-times a month when her work took her to Central Florida in the vicinity of Clearwater.
According to a statement Brown gave to FDLE investigators, “Barfield would say ‘I’m going be in Clearwater let’s say on such a date … do you want company?” Brown would say “yes” and Barfield would stay with him. Brown directed Barfield to park her car at a nearby fitness center, then would pick her up and park his car in the garage so that Barfield would not be seen.
Investigators found Barfield often drove out of her way to see Brown in Lecanto, Fla., using her FDLE Chevy filled with state-paid gas. Barfield justified her actions claiming that she actually saved the State money since the State didn’t have to pay for hotel rooms.
Barfield submitted vouchers for reimbursement for gas and mileage on her state-issued car that she was not entitled to receive, basically stealing from the taxpayers who paid her. When asked for a comment about these allegations, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney and Founding Member of the National College for DUI Defense Robert D. Malove said, “submitting vouchers to the State for reimbursement that you are not entitled to receive is at the core of what the False Claims Act is designed to prevent. Her conduct is criminal!
“As a high ranking official at FDLE with all the experience she aquired as the top representative for Breath-Alcohol testing in DUI cases in Florida, one would have certainly expected her to know better and not break the law. Its ironic, isn’t it?” Malove said. “I think she ought to speak with a criminal defense attorney. Before this whole thing blows over I bet she gets prosecuted.” Malove said.
Malove is not alone. “This is a long-term, well-planned, well-executed fraud, and it came from someone the public trusted,” said Mike Cantone, of CountyWatch.
Investigators also found Barfield was using her state-issued American Express card for all kinds of personal purchases.
A couple of years ago Barfield was disciplined for charging two Carnival cruises worth about $2,700 on her state card. But her unauthorized spending didn’t stop. Through 2012, investigators found dozens of charges at Walgreens, Shell gas stations, TJ Maxx, Ross and Marshalls. There was even a $700 charge for a car rental.
In total, it was nearly $7,000 in personal spending. When FDLE investigators asked Barfield to explain, she said, “I just use, put my American Express card down for everything.” Barfield told them, it was “mainly for convenience.”
Eber Brown says he reimbursed Barfield for the cruise. Obviously Brown was no rocket scientist himself. According to one of the witnesses interviewed she was aware that Brown’s family was also on the cruise. Once Brown and Barfield were discovered and the affair ended.
Patricia Brown was interviewed by FDLE. She told investigators that she and her husband of 46-years received nureous harrassing phone calls after her husband’s extra-marital affair with Barfield ended. According to the FDLE report, “the caller would make ‘slurping’ noises when Mr. Brown would answer” and referred to Mrs. Brown with a vulgar term used for a female genitalia.
According to one report, FDLE said the case against Barfield is not criminal and that she resigned before the agency could take any disciplinary action. What a crock!
While the FDLE investigation was underway, Barfield was testifying about the efficacy of Florida’s alcohol-testing program. Anytime a witness testifies, their credibility is in question. Prosecutors had an ongoing legal obligation to turn over information to defense attorneys that Barfield was under investigation. Such information falls under the perview of Brady v. Maryland, which includes evidence material to credibility of a civilian witness. Malove said he plans to file motions to dismiss DUI cases pending against his clients since FDLE should have notified prosecutors across the State that Barfield was under investigation.