Prior to August of 2021, FCADV was the state’s lead agency on domestic violence and received $35 million dollars on a pass-through basis that composed the largest part of the organization’s budget.
On Thursday, August 26, 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody announced that the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) will be dissolved.
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) filed a lawsuit against FCADV, CEO Tiffany Carr, CFO Patricia Duarte, COO Sandra Barnett, and its board members. The lawsuit alleged fraudulent misrepresentation, civil conspiracy, fraudulent concealment, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the implied duty of good faith, and breach of contract.
That lawsuit was settled in August of 2021 for just over $5 million which is small fraction of the money stolen.
History of FCADV
Since 2003, the organization has acted as a pass-through funding organization for the state. FCADV was the sole recipient of state domestic violence money. FCADV received state and federal dollars and distributes funds to local-level domestic violence agencies throughout the state of Florida.
Other pass-through organizations in Florida include the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services that contracts with the Department of Juvenile Justice. Only a few states distributed funds this way, including Kentucky, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania.
According to a 2017 report, Tiffany Carr’s salary as the CEO/President of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) was a whopping $761,560 annually. After cashing in paid time off, in 2018, Tiffany Carr’s W-2 wages were $4.5 million according to Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence records.
Tiffany Carr and her husband John Patrick Howard Jr., allegedly used the money to buy numerous homes and fund several businesses with other family members.
CEO Tiffany Carr’s extraordinary income shouldn’t come as a surprise because in back in 2009, the coalition’s Form 990 IRS filings showed that she drew a salary of $316,104, plus $36,158 in benefits.
The FCADV’s board of directors decided and approve the executive salaries. The board is comprised of current and former executive directors of domestic violence organizations who rely on FCADV for funding.
Tiffany Carr’s salary wasn’t the only problem. Across the board, problems were found with the way the funds were distributed and the way records were kept by everyone working at FCADV. To this day, none of them were held accountable.
Bigger Problems with FCADV’s Board
Part of the problem is that the FCADV’s board of directors decided executive salaries. Because of FCADV’s pass-through funding responsibilities, this structure caused a clear conflict of interest.
Almost the entire board was comprised of current and former executive directors of domestic violence organizations across the State of Florida. Those board members rely on FCADV funding distribution.
This system created a direct conflict of interest. The recipient of grants from an organization should NOT be on the board of directors.
The board members of FCADV who were also the directors of domestic violence centers that received state funds included:
- Melody Keeth of Serene Harbor in Palm Bay
- Laura Lynch of HOPE Family Services in Bradenton
- Angela Diaz-Vidaillet of The Lodge in Miami
- Donna Fagan, a private member from Lehigh Acres.
Other Outrageous Spending at FCADV
Those working under Tiffany Carr also received outrageous amounts of compensation including awarding Sandra Barnett, the chief operating officer, $556,905 between 2016 and 2018, and Patty Duarte, the chief financial officer, more than $668,552.
Even more outrageous is the fact that then-Rep. Denise Grimsley, a Republican from Sebring who headed the House Appropriations Committee at the time and was a friend of Tiffany Carr’s, allegedly encouraged the corruption.
The Department of Children and Families had the task of oversight, but did a truly terrible job of preventing the fraud that occurred. In the end, the corruption was largely ignored by the media swept under the rug by the Florida Attorney General’s Office that settled the civil lawsuit and recovered only a small fraction of the money stolen.
This article was last updated on Wednesday, January 19, 2021.