Alleged Fraudster Hughes Still in Jail

As SFGN goes to press on Tuesday afternoon, former Pride South Florida Director Mike Cruz has been arrested by the Broward Sheriff’s Office and taken into custody for Grand Theft in the Second Degree.


As reported in an exclusive SFGN story in February, the former Treasurer and Director of Pride South Florida, Mike Cruz, was being investigated by the Economic Crimes Unit of the Fort Lauderdale Police Dept. He was accused of stealing over $40,000 from Pride South Florida’s treasury.

A not-in-custody warrant was issued for Cruz’s arrest on July 19, after the Broward County State Attorney’s office formally charged him with Grand Theft in the second degree.

When the amount of money stolen is greater than $20,000 and less than $100,000, the charge is grand theft in the second degree, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.

Cruz’s case is assigned to Judge Andrew Siegel. Members of the Board of Directors of Pride South Florida cooperated with law enforcement authorities in the prosecution of Cruz, after the theft of Pride South Florida funds was discovered.

Cruz is not the only prominent gay person presently facing grand theft charges. Denny Hughes, 37, a once popular and prominent gay Fort Lauderdale realtor remains in jail on a no bond hold months after being charged with grand theft in the second degree. He is accused of stealing a client’s escrow monies, that was to be used for a down payment on a home, and converting the funds for his own use.

Normally a bondable offense, Hughes was already on felony probation for an aggravated battery of his ex lover when charged with the new theft, on December 8, 2009. Judge Geoff Cohen then revoked his bond on the original charge, and he remains in jail. Once the president of his own real estate group, Hughes was declared indigent for costs last week, and is now set for a tentative August 20 trial date before the Honorable Thomas Lynch.

The charges are that Hughes failed to show for a closing on the date that it was set, having taken $50,000 of funds belonging to victim Ronald Boyle, a New Yorker, which he had left in deposit for the closing.

Detective Mike Grassi, of the Economic Crimes Division of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is conducting a continuing investigation into complaints against Hughes by other additional victims. He can be reached at 954-828-5700.