By Kevin Deutsch
A substance abuse treatment professional from Coral Springs pleaded guilty Wednesday to her role in a bribery conspiracy, federal court records show.
Shannel Escoffery, 34, of West Sample Road, pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy in Fort Lauderdale federal court, along with her co-conspirator, Alexandra Cadet, 31, of West Palm Beach, the records show.
With Cadet’s help, Escoffery solicited and obtained illegal payments from substance abuse treatment facilities, which sought expedited approval of license applications in South Florida and elsewhere, Department of Justice prosecutors said.
The licenses are coveted because they legally authorize facilities to provide substance abuse treatment services in Florida.
Escoffery worked as a licensing consultant for a multiple treatment facilities when the crimes occurred in September and October 2017, prosecutors said. Her job required her to assist the facilities with preparing their licensing applications, submitting them to DCF, and obtaining licenses.
At the time, Cadet worked as a licensing specialist at the Department of Children and Families Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program Office. She had the authority to review and recommend approval of licensing applications submitted by substance abuse treatment facilities.
Once Cadet recommended approval of an application, a supervisor had authority to issue a final approval and the corresponding license.
Here’s how the scheme worked, according to prosecutors:
Escoffery would solicit and obtain payments from the substance abuse treatment facilities. Then, Escoffery would deliver all or some of the money, usually cash, to Cadet in exchange for Cadet’s expedited review and recommendation of approval of licenses.
The quicker the issuance of a license, the quicker the facility could open and start generating revenue.
As part of the bribery scheme, in October 2017, Cadet and Escoffery accepted a bribe payment from an unnamed substance abuse treatment facility in Broward County, records show.
In exchange for the bribe payment, Cadet reviewed and recommended approval of the facility’s application, expediting the issuance of a license to the facility, prosecutors said.
The women are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 18.
- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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