FDLE manager accused of spending thousands in taxpayer money on self

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

9 Investigates has uncovered a report that shows Florida Department of Law Enforcement manager Laura Barfield used her state-issued car to carry on an affair and charged thousands in personal expenses to her state credit card.

Barfield was widely known as Florida's top alcohol-testing guru and an expert witness in drunken driving cases.

But for at least 10 years at FDLE, she appeared in courtrooms across the state, even as investigators said she was effectively stealing from the taxpayers who paid her.

"This is a long-term, well-planned, well-executed fraud, and it came from someone the public trusted," said Mike Cantone, of CountyWatch.

The FDLE internal report found Barfield's deceptions unraveled with an anonymous letter. That letter alleged that Barfield misused her state-assigned vehicle to facilitate a personal relationship while traveling to and from court appearances.

The relationship was with married former Citrus County Deputy Administrator Eber Brown. Investigators found Barfield often drove well out of her way to see Brown in Lecanto, Fla., using her FDLE Impala and state-paid gas.

But as reviewers dug deeper, they also found Barfield was using her state-issued American Express card for all kinds of personal purchases.

In 2011, she was disciplined for charging two Carnival cruises worth about $2,700 on her state card.

But the spending didn't stop.

Through 2012, investigators found dozens of charges at Walgreens, Shell gas stations, TJ Maxx, Ross and Marshalls. There was even a $700 charge for a car rental.

In total, it was nearly $7,000 in personal spending.

When FDLE investigators asked Barfield to explain, she said, "I just use, put my American Express card down for everything."

Even for personal use, Barfield told them, it was "mainly for convenience."

Barfield was paid $70,000 a year in her position. She recently resigned.

FDLE said the case against her is not criminal and that she resigned before the agency could take any disciplinary action.