The State of Florida is set to recover nearly $5 million allegedly stolen by a non-profit set up to assist victims of domestic violence in a settlement against the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) and its former CEO Tiffany Carr.
Today, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Governor Ron DeSantis announced a global settlement agreement in a joint press conference. The settlement follows legal action taken by Moody and by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) in March 2020 to preserve FCADV assets and recover misused state grant funds paid to Carr as excessive compensation.
Moody said, “For several years, FCADV and Tiffany Carr concocted to pay herself an excessive compensation scheme, millions of dollars meant to benefit domestic violence victims. When uncovered, this scheme threatened to disrupt funding to domestic violence centers. I am pleased that through these actions, we succeeded in getting rid of the bad management, dismantling the organization, implementing a new system to serve victims of domestic violence and recouping millions of misappropriated funds.
“Nonprofit officers and directors who administer taxpayer funds take note: you have a heightened responsibility to use that money prudently. Today is a positive step towards restoring faith in the system and returning funds to the rightful recipients—ensuring domestic violence survivors receive the services and help they need to heal in a safe and secure environment.”
In 2020, a series of news reports and a Florida House investigation alleged Carr and her board collectively and systematically cheated the system to pay themselves millions of taxpayer dollars of raises and paid time off – money intended for domestic abuse victims.
Later that year, DeSantis signed House Bill 1087 to sever the state contract with FCADV, removing it from statute as the sole-source provider and coordinator of domestic violence services at the state’s 42 shelters.
Moody took legal action against FCADV and Carr for the misappropriation of public funds and private donations. In response to Moody’s motion, the court appointed a receiver over FCADV and its foundation to control their assets and property. DCF and the court-appointed receiver also filed actions against FCADV’s officers and directors. The settlement resolves five pending lawsuits brought by the Florida Attorney General’s Office, DCF, the court appointed receiver, Mark Healy, and Hanover, one of FCADV insurers.
Through the settlement, former FCADV officers and directors will pay more than $3.9 million to DCF and the receiver—including a more than $2 million payment by Carr. Per the settlement agreement, former FCADV officers, Patricia Duarte and Sandra Barnett, will pay a total of $60,000. FCADV insurers will pay the remaining funds from the $3.9 million payment, totaling more than $1.7 million. Additionally, more than $1 million currently in accounts of FCADV’s foundation will go directly to domestic violence centers across the state.
According to Moody, the agreement, which remains subject to court approval, resolves multiple pending civil actions but has no bearing on the ability of law enforcement to bring criminal charges associated with the misuse of taxpayer and charitable funds. Additionally, under the settlement agreement all parties agree to a judicial dissolution of FCADV—establishing a process to liquidate and dissolve the organization.
DeSantis said, “Today’s settlement is a win in our fight to recover money that was intended to help families rebuild after facing domestic violence. This organization acted in greed, abusing state dollars meant to serve families during their most vulnerable times. I am thankful this injustice was righted today with the return of this money.”
Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said, “Today we reached a key milestone in this tragic and reprehensible chapter of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Tiffany Carr story with the civil settlement announced this morning. Two years ago, the Florida House began aggressively investigating and uncovering the unscrupulous scheme that FCADV’s CEO, Tiffany Carr, carefully orchestrated to defraud Floridians and victims of domestic violence of millions of dollars. The dissolution of FCADV and the significant payments of its corrupt leadership through this settlement means victims of domestic violence in Florida can have hope and faith in a safe, bright future.”
DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris said, “Florida taxpayers deserve full accountability and transparency. The FCADV was deceptive with state funds, and I thank Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for the justice served today. We will continue working to ensure survivors receive the care and support they need while remaining transparent with the Legislature and taxpayers.”
To read the settlement agreement, click here.