By Kevin Deutsch
A Broward County judge last week took former Tamarac City Manager Michael Cernech off house arrest, granting the longtime public official the freedom to begin two new jobs, according to court records.
Cernech, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering under the RICO statutes last month for his alleged role in a scheme to extort more than $3 million from a local developer, was fired from his city manager job Sept. 2, just days after his arrest.
After the firing, Cernech’s attorney, Larry Davis, asked Judge Edward H. Merrigan, Jr. to modify Cernech’s pretrial release conditions, which required him to wear a GPS monitor and only allowed him to leave home to take his kids to and from school.
“Mr. Cernech has secured possible employment at both a manufacturing company and a staffing agency,” Davis wrote. “At these companies, he would serve as a consultant assisting in operations and recruitment, respectively.”
Both opportunities require “tri-county travel for day-to-day work purposes such as meetings, and depending on the businesses’ needs, possible out-of-state travel if permitted by the Court,” the motion said.
Davis said Cernech needed the work in part because his wife, Rosemary, is a middle school math teacher in Broward County.
“Given the overworked and underpaid nature of her profession, Mr. Cernech will need to take the lead as it relates to taking care of his parents, re-entering the workforce following his recent termination, and transporting his two children…to school and extracurricular activities,” Davis wrote.
In his Sept. 21 order granting Davis’ motion, Merrigan wrote that “the requirement of GPS monitoring is deleted” from Cernech’s pretrial release conditions.
“[Cernech] shall be placed on standard pretrial with the ability to travel tri-county without restriction,” the order states.
The Florida Attorney General’s Office charged Cernech, Tamarac’s city manager since 2011 after he allegedly conspired to commit racketeering with several others, including father-and-son developer duo Bruce and Shawn Chait.
The co-conspirators tried to pressure Arnaud Karsenti, the Managing Principal of 13th Floor Investments, into coughing up $3.4 million in extortion money, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Cernech is currently free on a $200,000 bond, for which his house was used as collateral, court records show. He has pleaded not guilty and is next due in court on Nov. 8, records show.
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- 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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