by | last updated on January 18, 2016
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 has led to her resignation.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.

According to one report, a FDLE spokesman said the case against Barfield is not criminal and that she resigned before the agency could take any disciplinary action.  However, this observation is contrary to the findings sustained in Section V of the FDLE report.  The rules governing the conduct of FDLE employes are set forth under the Florida Administrative Code, specifically Rule 11I-1.01, which states:

11I-1.011 Acts of Misconduct and Work Standard Violations for Department Employees.

(2) Violation of law or rules. Violation of federal, state, or local law, ordinance, rules, or operating procedures of the Department or the State of Florida, either off-duty on personal time, or in the execution of one’s duties as an employee of the Department which adversely affects the employee’s ability to perform his or her job, or which adversely affects the Department’s ability to carry out its assigned mission. This provision applies also to the treatment of persons in custody, use of force, and procedures for arrest, search, and seizure.

FDLE Policy 1.4 states:

1.4 Police officers [this policy applies to all officers of this agency engaged in official duties, whether on or off duty] shall not knowingly commit any criminal offense under any laws of the United States or any state of local jurisdiction in which the officer is present, except where permitted in the performance of duty under proper authority.

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.  Brown told investigators that she had a face-to-face confrontation with Barfield at the airport demanding that she leave her family alone.  Mrs. Brown and her husband of 46-years, Eber, received numerous 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.” The caller referred to Mrs. Brown with a vulgar street term used for female genitalia.  Sounds like a real-life Jackie Collins novel.

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.  Law enforcement personell and 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 and had already been disciplined for FDLE policy violations.  “Failure to disclose the investigation into Barfield’s conduct could end up getting thousands of DUI cases from all over Florida dismissed on grounds of governmental misconduct,” said Malove.