S. Fla. Insurance Fund Bankrupt, Ex-Mgr. Indicted

As the Miami-Dade County Commission was forced to borrow $5 million to cover the debts of police union’s insurance fund, the fund’s ex-manager was indicted for stealing from the fund last month.  The Fla. Dept. of Financial Services (DFS) took over the Nationwide Public Employees Trust on May 15, after a large number of police officers — many of them retired — reported phone calls from bill collectors over unpaid medical bills.  The DFS soon discovered that the Trust was more than $5 million in debt.

The Trust is sponsored by the Miami-Dade County Police Benevolent Assn. (PBA), whose bd. of directors elects the Trust’s executive cmte., which appoints the trustees.  Miami PBA president John Rivera complained that while he attended the trustees’ meetings regularly, his recommendations were never followed.  Palm Beach PBA president Ernest George supported Rivera’s contention.  George pulled his union out of the Trust in March 2001, when deficits first showed up in the financial reports.

On June 13, Fla. Dept. of Law Enforcement agents made their first arrest in their investigation of the collapsed Trust.  The fund’s frmr. manager, Alexandra Cruz-Fischer, was charged with stealing more than $11,000 from the Trust.  She is accused of using a company credit card to make over $8,500 in personal purchases.  She also used Trust funds to maintain her car, buy groceries, a computer and DVDs, and a loan to her mother.  She also allegedly approved payment by the Trust for a relative’s plastic surgery even as other policyholders could not get payment for more vital medical procedures. [Miami Herald, May 16, 28, June 14, July 11, 2003]