Dade Medical College owner Ernest Perez has turned himself in to authorities for campaign violation charges. Based on a pending plea deal, Perez faces two month house arrest, probation and a $200,000 fine. His arrest is just one of the many legal trouble plaguing the school, which suddenly closed their South Florida campuses last week.
According to the charging affidavit filed by the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s office on Tuesday, Perez and a company he controlled called Florida Education Center illegally bundled campaign contributions to Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman during his 2013 re-election campaign. At the time, Perez wanted the city to approve a location for his for-profit college and sell him land owned by its community redevelopment agency (CRA), according to the charging affidavit. In fact, he employed the mayor’s wife, Donna Bateman, as a real estate consultant for $5,000 per month.
Perez contributed over $750,000 to campaigns in recent years, both legally and illegally, according to the charging affidavit. Over $159,000 in campaign contributions by employees were reimbursed by Florida Education Center, usually at an amount a dollar or two more than the contributions in order to conceal it.