HOUSTON - Arrests at Houston airports tend to happen at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, not inside of the airport's executive offices. This, however, is what happened in March 2013.
The airport system's chief auditor, Kerticia Mond, was arrested on out-of-state felony charges of "forging or counterfeiting a doctor's certificate of examination" as well as filing a false insurance claim to collect short-term disability benefits while employed at the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.
According to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Mond collected $16,200 in disability payments when she was only entitled to less than $2,000. Following her arrest, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker said the city would review Mond's performance, adding, "We don't believe it will impact the city in any way."
As chief auditor, Mond is responsible for examining finances and identifying misspending.
Five years later, Channel 2 Investigates is following up on those Florida charges.
Mario Diaz, executive director of the Houston Airport System's, was asked about the case and said the following in a statement:
"Ms. Mond took steps to resolve her responsibilities related to her ancillary involvement in the issue. She was forthcoming with authorities in Florida and they determined her not to be culpable. The responsible party, not Ms. Mond, did receive a conviction."
Channel 2 legal analyst Brian Wice said, "I think that Mr. Diaz's statement is not just misleading but demonstrably untrue."
Court records obtained by Channel 2 Investigates show Mond entered a plea and negotiated sentence on two third-degree felonies. She also received two days in jail with two days already served and was ordered to pay $14,364 back to Aflac Inc.
"This is something that she had to come into court, face the judge, face the state attorney and say under oath, 'I engaged in this criminal conduct,'" Wice said.
The judge also decided to withhold the adjudication of guilt.
"Meaning the judge found the evidence sufficient to find her guilty but never did,” Wice said.
Channel 2 Investigates caught up with Diaz at City Hall and asked if he wanted to clarify his written statement. When asked if he knew what specifically took place in Florida, Diaz said, “Again, I think those are questions you should ask the law department. I did not investigate this myself."
Channel 2 Investigates did, but Diaz did not want to look at our documents.
When asked how he thought taxpayers at home were going to look at his leadership, if the chief auditor was arrested and entered two pleas of guilty to third-degree felonies in Florida and yet maintained her job at the airport, he said, “What I would say to you is: Do your homework. Contact the law department."
Channel 2 Investigates did do the homework. Diaz ultimately stepped away from the interview, but within an hour his staff called requesting a second interview.
“The conditions. I was not in the mindset yesterday," Diaz said.
When asked if he was aware that Mond entered two guilty pleas in Florida for felonies, Diaz said, "As a result of these statements, she entered a guilty plea in the state of Florida on these charges, yes."
When asked to confirm his awareness, Diaz quickly said, "Oh, yes, I was made aware of that."
He added, “She has acknowledged that she did reimburse the insurance company for the payment that she received."
Channel 2 Investigates asked Diaz if he wanted to look at the documents once again?
"If you are going to ask me, I'm going to take the time. I'm going to have to read these documents. If you're going to want to take the time, I certainly will do that," Diaz said.
Channel 2 Investigates had the time.
Diaz asked for 20 minutes.
After examining the documents, he defended his chief auditor's decision to plead guilty.
"It's crossed out. Right here, it says, 'I'm guilty is crossed out and it says 'It is in my best interest to.' Now she made a judgment," Diaz said.
Channel 2 Investigates spoke with an official involved in Mond’s case in the 4th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, based in Jacksonville, Florida. The official told Channel 2 Investigates, “I am surprised that a government official would be able to keep her job under these circumstances, particularly when her criminal activity is related to the fraud that occurred.”
The official also said, “She took advantage of her employment situation to commit fraud.”
Channel 2 Investigates asked the city about any policy pertaining to employees who plead guilty to felonies.
The city did not provide one but a city policy states, if a person is convicted after being hired, the department “would probably consult with Legal and HR” to address the case.
Diaz told Channel 2 Investigates that Mond’s case was reviewed.
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