Crime

Two Rural Health Network executives jailed for theft from nonprofit agency

The top two executives of a Florida Keys health care nonprofit were jailed Thursday after prosecutors say they helped themselves to more than $63,000 in unearned pay in April and May.

Members of the Rural Health Network of Monroe County’s board of directors reported Daniel Smith, 61, the CEO and executive director, and Susana Carrick, 55, the chief operating officer, to the State Attorney’s Office after becoming suspicious of possible fraud.

Smith and Carrick, who live together on Big Pine Key and worked at the nonprofit’s offices in Key West, each face a second-degree felony charge of fraud between $20,000 and $100,000.

Both were arrested Thursday and booked into the county jail. Carrick’s bond was set at $50,000 and Smith’s was $75,000.

Between April 4 and May 16, the two received direct deposit payments that totaled $35,429 for Smith and $27,996 for Carrick, according to an affidavit filed Thursday in Monroe County court. 

“They misrepresented that the board approved it, hoping it would go undiscovered,” said Chris Weber, chief investigator for the State Attorney’s Office.

In early March, Smith told the board of directors he had accrued several hours of unused vacation time but no figures were discussed and no votes taken, prosecutors said.

Smith suggested some of the BP oil spill disaster funds Rural Health Network had received be used to buy back those hours, according to the affidavit. 

On March 23, Smith told the nonprofit’s financial officers the board had approved paying him for 504 hours of paid time off and Carrick for 482 hours she had racked up, the affidavit states.

No such approval was ever made, prosecutors say.

Such an approval would be impossible because the nonprofit’s policy limits paid time off benefits to 190 hours. 

Smith and Carrick, who own the home they share on Big Pine Key, could have easily applied for up to 190 hours of stored paid time off under the employer’s rules, Weber said, but instead they took it all without permission.

Because of its population of about 75 people per square mile, Monroe County qualifies as a rural area. The Rural Health Network, which has dental offices in Marathon and Key West, was created in 1995 to help coordinate health care services to residents.

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