|TALLAHASSEE MAN ARRESTED FOR THEFT OF STATE FUNDS|
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced that a Tallahassee man suspected of diverting nearly $25,000 in public funds, from a program intended to teach teens how to drive safely, surrendered today to investigators with the Department of Financial Services, Office of Fiscal Integrity.
“Fraudulent abuse of taxpayer dollars for personal gain is unconscionable,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Office of Fiscal Integrity.
Paul Ester Burris, 54, President of Partners for Highway Safety Foundation, Inc (PHS), has been charged with grand theft and organized scheme to defraud, both second-degree felonies. He was booked into the Leon County Jail and, if convicted, faces up to 15 years in prison for each charge. Burris has operated PHS, a youth-driver education organization, in Tallahassee since 1992.
Investigators further stated that in December 2003, a local printing company billed Burris/PHS $5,012 for the printing of 1,000 manuals for use with the PHS youth driver education programs. Burris persuaded the owners of the printing company to re-write the $5,012 invoice for $12,120, resulting in a personal gain to Burris of $7,108.
Further investigation into Burris’ activities is ongoing. The Department of Financial Services, Office of Fiscal Integrity, investigates criminal misuse of state funds or property impacting the citizens of Florida. To report fraud, waste, or abuse of state resources, call (850) 410-9890.
Okeechobee County's historic courthouse, built in 1925, sits next to the county's new state-of-the-art courthouse scheduled to open this spring.