Former Florida School Board Member Arrested, Allegedly Embezzled $100K from District Funds


Florida’s Miami-Dade County Lubby Navarro, a former vice chair of the Miami-Dade School Board, was taken into custody early on Thursday morning, as reported by News 6 partner Local 10 News.

On Thursday afternoon, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said that Navarro, 49, had used her district credit cards to make approximately $100,000 in illicit expenditures for personal use, including groceries, clothing, appliances, trips, and other items.

According to the authorities, Navarro bought a pair of “artificial silicone pregnancy bellies” as one of at least two odd goods.

In accordance with jail records, Navarro was charged with third-degree grand theft, second-degree grand theft, organized fraud of $20,000 or less, and organized fraud of $50,000 or more when he was checked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center at 10:35 a.m. Her bond of $2 million was being held.

Then-Governor Rick Scott nominated Navarro to the school board in 2015, and she made her departure from the board in December 2022.

According to officials, the accusations are related to purchases made in 2022.

At a press conference on Thursday, Fernandez Rundle stated that the probe got underway following Navarro’s resignation.

While school board members generally reconcile their own credit card transactions, her departure meant school board administrators were left to reconcile her cards and they got suspicious about some of her hefty expenditures, Fernandez Rundle said.

Fernandez Rundle stated that investigators discovered she made transactions at Walmart, TJ Maxx, Party City, Office Depot, and other locations. Among the things she bought were appliances, cosmetics, food, home goods, 178 gift cards, and more.

Fernandez Rundle remarked, “She knew better than to have gone down this very pathetic path.”

A 91-page arrest warrant details all of the accusations.

Investigators, according to Fernandez Rundle, discovered some of the goods in her home, including a commercial refrigerator and a sofa. According to Fernandez Rundle, more were discovered in a storage facility.

She is also charged with using funds for personal travel and associated costs, which include trips to Las Vegas with her ex-boyfriend and the Dominican Republic with her mother.

The warrant states that Navarro and her mother traveled to Punta Cana for over $1,100, paying for round-trip tickets on American Airlines under a fare code that several travel websites indicate was business class.

According to the authorities, she paid over $1,200 for tickets on American Airlines that would take her and her boyfriend to Las Vegas. There is a business class fare code associated with the flight that is leaving.

She charged almost $4,300 at the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel during her three-day visit, according to the warrant.

$501 at the Encore Beach Club, $174 at the Jardin Brunch & Breakfast, $416 at the Sinatra Italian Restaurant, $298 at the Allegro Italian Restaurant, $176.89 at the Eastside Lounge, $229 for in-room dining, and $173 at the XS Nightclub were among the charges listed in the warrant.

Fernandez Rundle claimed that Navarro also bought products for Shook Market, a Fort Lauderdale company with a location at 2613 Stirling Road, owned by her ex-boyfriend.

According to the warrant, she purchased a $900 Android phone, “Ninja blenders, Breville espresso machines, (a) chest freezer, two wine coolers, fake grass, and a Frigidaire refrigerator for drinks” for her boyfriend’s smoothie business.

The warrant states that Navarro’s boyfriend and her had a difficult breakup in August or September of 2022 because he claimed she was “extremely possessive” and started to harass and stalk him online and over the phone.

Authorities added that she also sent a picture of herself to the man’s mother, “showing off a pregnant belly.”

However, the warrant states that it was not her pregnant belly or anyone else’s for that matter. It was phony, the result of two odd transactions made using her district credit card.

“Subpoenaed documents from revealed that on November 2, 2022, NAVARRO purchased two (2) artificial silicone pregnancy bellies with cotton filling, one reflecting a 2-4 month pregnancy and the other reflecting 3-10 month pregnancy, using her P-Card,” the warrant stated.

At one time, according to the authorities, Navarro pulled up to the man’s place of business, and as she was leaving, he went outside to make sure she was indeed pregnant. She wasn’t.

According to the warrant, Navarro would inform him that “the baby had died and she had taken pills.”

It further says that she used the credit card to purchase Apple AirTags at Walmart with the intention of tracking him. Authorities added that Navarro sent him a picture of herself with a baseball cap from the FBI, claiming to be an employee of the organization and to have “knew everything about him.”

In 2022, Navarro resigned from the school board one day after a federal judge ruled against a new state legislation that forbade politicians from engaging in lobbying activities.

Navarro at the time was a registered lobbyist for the South Broward Hospital District.

She is Memorial Healthcare System’s director of government affairs at the moment.

“We are aware of the developing situation involving our employee and expect to learn more from the State Attorney’s office,” the South Broward Hospital System stated in a statement. “As we ascertain the truth, we are steadfast in our commitment to upholding the greatest standards of integrity. We shall always behave in the community we serve’s best interest going forward.

Navarro’s lawyer, Ben Kuehne, stated in bond court on Thursday that her client was on unpaid leave from Memorial Healthcare; the company subsequently verified Navarro’s statement.

The following statement on Navarro’s arrest was also issued by the school district: “Miami-Dade County Public Schools has been informed of the recent arrest of former School Board Member Lubby Navarro. We won’t be making any comments on this topic because it’s still an active, open matter. When required, we will work in tandem with police enforcement.

Kuehne is well-known for defending political leaders in South Florida, both past and present, who are facing legal issues. His clients include former Miami City Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who is suspected in an ongoing criminal corruption investigation, and current Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo, who is coping with the aftermath of a $63 million civil ruling.

According to Fernandez Rundle, Navarro might go to prison for three to 55 years if found guilty.

According to officials, the school district would bolster checks and balances and give priority to audits of purchasing card activity, especially that of current or past board members.

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