LEE COUNTY- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Ft. Myers Regional Operations Center today arrested Philip C. Bennett, 61, of Ft. Myers, for stealing funds from the City of Moore Haven, three civic organizations, and a campaign account. Bennett is charged with three counts of grand theft in the first degree, one count of grand theft in the second degree, one count of grand theft in the third degree, and three counts of money laundering greater than $100,000.
FDLE began investigating in June 2009 when the City of Moore Haven identified inconsistencies in financial statements and reported them to the Glades County Sheriff’s Office which then contacted FDLE. The investigation revealed that Bennett, who served as the asset manager for the City of Moore Haven’s Capital Projects Finance Authority, had used his position to misappropriate approximately $268,500 from various city projects.
During the City of Moore Haven investigation, FDLE learned that Bennett had also stolen a combined amount of more than $700,000 from three local Rotary organizations. Bennett served as the treasurer or was a signatory on the bank accounts of the organizations.
In addition, agents allege Bennett unlawfully took $62,000 from the election campaign account of a Lee County Commissioner.
During the period between February 2005 and June 2008, Bennett took approximately $1,031,500 from these five separate organizations and used the money to fund the operation of his company, Public Finance Associates. During the course of FDLE’s investigation, Bennett returned the funds he took to the three Rotary organizations and to the election campaign account. He returned $84,500 to the City of Moore Haven.
Bennett was taken to the Lee County Jail. The case will be prosecuted by a special prosecutor from the Office of the State Attorney, 10th Judicial Circuit.