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FDLE manager resigns after being accused of misusing state credit card

FDLE manager resigns after being accused of misusing state credit card

An official with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Alcohol Testing Program has resigned amid accusations that she used her state-issued credit card to pay for a cruise and personal shopping trips.

Laura Barfield is accused of using a corporate American Express credit card to purchase $2,700 worth of Carnival Cruiselines tickets as well as another $3,800 at TJ Maxx, Walmart, Ross, Walgreens, Piggy’s BBQ and several other businesses, an FDLE internal investigation found.

Barfield became operations and management consulting manager for the alcohol testing program in 2001. She supervised six department inspectors and had several responsibilities including certifying all breath-test operators for the state.

A six-month investigation was launched when Barfield was accused in two anonymous letters of using her state-issued vehicle to maintain a relationship with a married man while on business trips throughout the state.

The investigative report released Friday said that Barfield, who was often required to travel for work-related court appearances, would stay with her boyfriend instead of a hotel when she had to make trips to Central Florida.

Investigators said she would log the extra mileage used to get to his home along with her official expenses. On one trip, documents state, she drove 407 miles when the trip should have been only about 220 miles.

Barfield told investigators that the state would have paid more ($100 to $120) if she had stayed in a hotel. Instead, she said, the state paid only $20 or less because she stayed with her boyfriend.

Barfield said she visited only when there was a valid, work-related function to attend. However, the document stated, she was not able to prove that many of the trips were actually work-related.

FDLE determined that Barfield’s behavior was unbecoming of an official and that she violated the policy for the use of resources. Barfield will take a four- to six- week leave of absence before her resignation goes into effect in May.

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