Fort Lauderdale hired high-ranking official with bogus resume, investigator says

For one man, getting a six-figure job in Fort Lauderdale City Hall was as easy as creating a webpage with photos of strangers, and padding his resume to make it appear he was qualified.

No one in City Hall checked, and voila, he was the treasurer. Salary: $118,040.

The embarrassing allegations of poor vetting are laid out in Broward Inspector General John Scott’s latest investigation, released Wednesday.

In it, the office alleges that Fort Lauderdale City Treasurer Ash-Shaqandi “Ash” Benzo held that job for a year after lying on his resume. His act of fiction was brazen, according to Scott, including the use of a dead man’s photo on a website for a company that no longer existed. Interim Assistant City Manager Linda Logan-Short hired Benzo, after she failed to properly check his background and references, the report says.

He said he’d co-founded a company, ASNF Financial-Government/Municipal Finance, an acronym for “A Son Never Forgets.” The man he listed as his co-founder was pictured on the website.

But investigators said the photo belonged to a businessman in Chicago, who “was wholly unaware and shocked to learn that ASNF Financial used his image on its website.” The company itself no longer existed.

Another photo on the website, purportedly of the firm’s director of client services, actually belonged to a man who died in 2013, the report says.

Benzo checked “no” for contacting his most recent past employer. He’d worked for the city of Cape Coral, who marked him as permanently ineligible for rehire. Logan-Short said she didn’t remember seeing that information, though it had been emailed to her.

She and City Manager Chris Lagerbloom — who was not city manager at the time of Benzo’s hiring — did not respond to an email for comment.

In a letter to the inspector general, Lagerbloom said the city made some changes, including new personnel in human resources, to tighten up the hiring process.

Brittany Wallman can be reached at bwallman@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4541. Find her on Twitter @BrittanyWallman.

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