An arrest warrant was issued last Wednesday for former Margate city employee Kim Liakos, accusing her of receiving kickbacks worth $33,000 as well as free repairs to her home. In exchange, she allegedly gave city projects to contractors at inflated prices.
Liakos, 58, is charged with grand theft, bribery, unlawful compensation, and bid tampering. Her attorney told the press that she intends to turn herself in. She reportedly gave up her passport and will plead not guilty at her arraignment.
According to the arrest report, Liakos cost Margate almost $1 million from government grants earmarked to help low-income families buy and repair homes when she was the city’s grants manager. Liakos was hired in 2011 to manage several projects that used government funds to buy and repair houses and sell them at affordable prices to low-income families. The projects also helped repair existing homes for people with low income.
Investigators spent 22 months going through all the documents on the city’s housing projects and looked into Liakos’ relationship with the builders hired to do the jobs. They believe she handpicked specific contractors for the jobs by providing them with confidential information on the bids. She reportedly received $33,250 from the contractors between 2014 and 2015 as well as free repairs to her Coral Springs home in payment.
Jean Danny Augustin, owner of Modern Day Construction, was one of the contractors named in the arrest affidavit. He reportedly bought and installed a water heater in Liakos’ home and hired workers to perform repairs for her. Augustin told investigators that she also asked him for money and he agreed “with the understanding that he would be allowed to inflate his invoices to recoup the money he gave Liakos,” the arrest affidavit said.
Antonio Figueroa, owner of EPS Construction, was also named in the affidavit. He told investigators that Liakos asked for cash and he agreed because she “controlled the entire grants program.” He reportedly brought her the money in an envelope at City Hall. Like Augustin, Figueroa also did repairs at her house for free and inflated his invoices to the city to recoup the cost.
Edward Cancio, owner of Access Builders, was the third contractor named in the affidavit. He reportedly told investigators that he also did repairs in Liakos’ home for free, but unlike the other contractors, she never asked him for money. However, he also knew he could inflate his invoices for city projects to recoup the money he spent on her home. He told police he usually makes a 10 to 20 percent profit on construction projects, but earned 50 to 60 percent profit on city projects.
City officials launched an investigation after noticing discrepancies in billing. Liakos resigned from her post in 2015 when she discovered she was under investigation. A forensic accountant reported that more than $100,000 in grant funds was misallocated and estimated a loss of $972,774 in “project overages.” The accountant concluded that there wasn’t enough oversight at Margate City Hall.