City of Fort Lauderdale Department of Parks and Recreation Employee Arrested on Fraud Charges
Two individuals, including a City of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department employee, are charged with participating in a fraud conspiracy.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Robert Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Rick Maglione, Chief, Fort Lauderdale Police Department (FLPD), made the announcement.
Phillip Richard Peterson, 42, of Coral Springs, Florida, was charged in a 50-count indictment with theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, wire fraud and conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666, 1343 and 1349. Peterson. Gino Joseph Ferraro, age 49, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was also charged in four counts in the indictment, with participating in the conspiracy and substantive counts of wire fraud. An arraignment hearing is scheduled for Peterson on October 12, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. and Ferraro on October 17, 2018 at 11:00 a.m., before the U.S. Magistrate Judge in Fort Lauderdale.
The indictment alleges that between 2013 and 2017, Peterson, as a City of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department employee used a credit card issued by the City of Fort Lauderdale to purchase various items from different merchants. Peterson had been issued the card in connection with his employment to allow him to make job related purchases, on behalf of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Peterson would purchase items using his City of Fort Lauderdale credit card, and then sell the items to a local pawn store. Each year between 2013 and 2017, Peterson allegedly stole more than $5,000 worth of merchandise in this manner.
The indictment further alleges that Peterson conspired with Ferraro to unjustly enrich themselves by charging the City of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department for volleyball court repairs and other items that were not completed or provided.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and FLPD in this matter. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia R. Wood.