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Town Public Works deputy arrested for embezzlement

April 4, 2012
By BOB PETCHER,rpetcher@breezenewspapers.com , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Town of Fort Myers Beach Public Works Deputy Director Scott Allen Baker was arrested Thursday for an outstanding warrant from the state of Michigan for embezzlement.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement Fort Myers Regional Operations Center arrested Baker, 41, who was booked into the Lee County Jail and is awaiting extradition with no bond.

Michigan State Police investigated an alleged misuse of city funds in the amount of a little over $6,000 from Center Line, Michigan. Baker had been the public works superintendent for the City of Center Line, after being hired there in February 2006.

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PHOTO PROVIDED
Scott Allen Baker.

The embezzlement activity took place from January 2007 until December 2008, according to Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Patrick Young. Baker was supervising a program involving the replacement of water meters in Center Line.

"It was brought to our attention from the city that there were some receipts paid for scrap metal being received by the scrap yard, " said Young. "That dollar amount was not consistent with the amount of money that was then being deposited back into the city's treasury. There were other indications that we had received that Mr. Baker may have been using some of this money in an unauthorized manner."

Young said when the investigation began, it was his department's understanding that Baker had retired, moved to Florida and was employed by the Town of Fort Myers Beach.

According to Town records, Baker was hired by the Town as a special projects supervisor in March 2009, and then later was promoted to interim public works deputy director in July 2009. He filled that position on a permanent basis in January 2010.

The Town conducted a complete background screening investigation before hiring Baker. Along with all other Town employees, Baker completed and signed a Public Records Disclosure Exemption Request form to update information and state "no special exemptions were applicable" in November 2011.

Baker, who resides in Cape Coral, has the option of waiving the extradition or fighting it in a court of law.

Michigan State Police issued a fugitive warrant in April 2010. Baker was notified about it and was notified to come back to Michigan to take care of the charge.

"He always had some reason why he could not come back," said Young. "It was with some discussion last week with the City of Center Line that officials there said they would pitch for the bill to get him back up here. That set the wheels in motion, and we re-contacted FDLE who arrested him by force.

Young said FDLE had originally interviewed Baker for a statement about the charge.

"It appears he has been cooperative other than the fact that he didn't come back up here," he said.

FMB Town Manager Terry Stewart called Baker a "well-liked" employee of the Town of Fort Myers Beach.

"His work as an employee at the Town of Fort Myers Beach has been excellent," he said. "We hope this issue can be resolved quickly.

"Regarding his employment, we will not rush to judgment. He is on leave now and is using his leave time."

 
 

 

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