In June of 2011 Michael Cruz, the former director of the then-named Pride South Florida, was convicted of embezzling $46,591 from the organization. Cruz was sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to make monthly payments of $400 to Pride to reimburse the organization. Although he repaid the majority of the funds, he still owed $13,000 when he died in 2017.
When questioned for this article about plans to recover the money, Pride Fort Lauderdale issued the following statement though its attorney, “Our attorneys have advised us there are no legal options or mechanisms to collect any further monies from the estate of Mr. Cruz. While we regret we could not recover the full amount of monies we lost through his theft, we are grateful that through monthly restitution payments during his period of probation, Mr. Cruz paid back our community a substantial portion of our loss. Going forward, we will continue to jealously safeguard our treasury with new fiscal safeguards we have put in place."
Miik Matorell, the head of Fort Lauderdale Pride initially planned to regain the remaining funds. In an interview in 2016 he stated that, “There’s a responsibility to the organization for the money owed. It’s the community’s money. At this point, we’re probably going to have to hire a lawyer to get the rest of it.”
When Cruz was convicted, a lien was placed against him by the court to ensure he paid Pride back. According to Broward property records, Cruz and a man named Emmanuel Stringos purchased a home in Fort Lauderdale in 2000 for $87,490. The home was sold in July of 2017 for $215,000, but Stringos was the only name on the title at the time of sale.
Last year Matorell started expressing doubt. “I’ve kind of hit a road block [on finding out about the remaining money owed to Pride],” he said. “Hopefully, after Pride, I can make this happen. It hasn’t fallen off the charts. It just hasn’t progressed.”
It now appears Pride Fort Lauderdale has run out of options.