Authorities in Tallahassee, FL, have announced the arrest of Wakulla County Property Appraiser Brad Harvey for allegedly using his office credit card to make more than $27,000 in fraudulent charges and illegally paying himself more than $176,000 over the course of three years.
Harvey, 45, was charged with two counts of organized scheme to defraud. He is being held in Wakulla County Jail. The press did not name an attorney for him.
According to the arrest report, investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) started looking into Harvey after learning he had fraudulently issued himself checks that were discovered by other staff in his office. Harvey had allegedly acted as his office’s chief financial officer and had handled everything to do with payroll, including check writing and IRS payments.
Sources indicate that Harvey’s salary in 2016 when he took office was $103,000. It increased to $107,500 the following year, and again to $108,336 in 2018. In addition to his statutory salary, Harvey purportedly made 111 disbursements of county funds to pay himself more than $176,000 extra between 2016 and 2018. He gave himself more than $50,000 the first year, $49,000 the second year, and nearly $77,000 the third year, according to the arrest report.
Records also revealed that Harvey used the property appraiser’s office credit card to rack up nearly $27,000 in charges for personal expenses like automotive services for his vehicles and Carnival cruise tickets for his family.
Harvey has been under investigation at least since October 2019. FDLE investigators said the agency had received several complaints from unidentified county employees regarding Harvey’s alleged misuse of public funds. It is not clear how the county employees discovered the alleged fraud.
In September 2019, the county administrator wrote a letter to state lawmakers, the governor’s office, state auditors, and the FDLE detailing Harvey’s alleged misuse of county funds. The letter urged officials to investigate the allegations and take “swift action to stop future waste or theft of public moneys and restore integrity to the Office of the Property Appraiser,” the report indicates.
Harvey was arrested on April 17 and booked into Wakulla County Jail. Gov. DeSantis signed an executive order suspending him from office on the same day.
The crime of a scheme to defraud usually involves an ongoing series of actions intended to defraud someone by obtaining something valuable through fraudulent representation or intentional misrepresentation. Florida law prohibits financial fraud through any technology, including mail, wire, the internet, telephone, or other types of communication.
Scheme to defraud is a serious crime with severe penalties depending on the value of the loss. A loss of $50,000 or more, for example, is considered a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Anyone facing this charge should immediately consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who can act quickly and mount a defense to have the charge dropped or reduced to a less serious offense.
South Florida Fraud Attorney