Former DCF Employee and Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Consultant Plead Guilty in Bribery Scheme
Today, a State of Florida employee who agreed to accept bribe money in exchange for expediting the license application process of certain substance abuse treatment facilities, as well as a facilities consultant involved in the bribery scheme, pled guilty in South Florida federal court to extortion conspiracy.
According to court documents and the information to which 31-year-old Alexandra Alia Cadet of West Palm Beach, Florida and 34-year-old Shannel Simone Escoffery of Coral Springs, Florida pled guilty, Cadet was a licensing specialist for the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families (DCF), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program Office.
As a licensing specialist, Cadet had responsibility and authority to review and recommend the approval of applications submitted by substance abuse treatment facilities for licenses authorizing the provision of substance abuse treatment services in Florida. Once Cadet recommended approval of an application, a supervisor had authority to issue a final approval and the corresponding license.
Escoffery was a consultant for substance abuse treatment facilities. Escoffery assisted facilities with preparing their licensing applications, submitting them to DCF, and obtaining licenses.
The bribery scheme would operate as follows: Escoffery would solicit and obtain payments from the substance abuse treatment facilities. Then, Escoffery would deliver all or some of the money, usually cash, to Cadet in exchange for official action; that is, Cadet’s expedited review and recommendation of approval of licenses authorizing the facilities to provide substance abuse treatment services in Florida. The quicker the issuance of a license, the quicker the facility could open and start generating revenue.
As part of the bribery scheme, in October 2017, Cadet and Escoffery accepted a bribe payment from a substance abuse treatment facility in Broward County, Florida. In exchange for the bribe payment, Cadet reviewed and recommended approval of the facility’s application, expediting the issuance of a license to the facility.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Robert M. DeWitt, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Sentencing is set for October 18 before U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal.
FBI Miami investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorney Daya Nathan is prosecuting it. Assistant United States Attorney Peter Laserna is handling asset forfeiture.