Osceola clerk of court hands out raises as commissioners worry about funds



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9 has learned Osceola County Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez has not handed over hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money.

Excess money collected from fees throughout the year can range between $100,000 and $300,000, money the Clerk's Office is supposed to give back to the county.

Channel 9's Nance Alvare also found Ramirez has handed out more than $70,000 in raises this year, including a raise for himself, which has some county leaders concerned.

County leaders expected to have the money by the end of the fiscal year, which was Sept. 3, but they have not received anything yet.

Ramirez now has until the end of the month to hand it over or possibly face suspension from office.

"It has to come back to the citizens. It is their money," said County Commissioner Fred Hawkins Jr.

Channel 9 uncovered records that show Ramirez's chief deputy clerk, who's also his son's girlfriend, is now making an extra $20,000 a year.

Ramirez himself got a $5,000 raise.

So far, there has been no communication from Ramirez about where the excess money is, commissioners said.

Ramirez's spokesman said the clerk has every intention of handing over the money, about $200,000, by Oct. 31.

Ramirez's spokesman sounded surprised that county leaders were concerned about the money, Alvarez said. He said they have nothing to worry about.

It's up to the commissioners to notify the governor if the money is not handed over. The governor would then decide from there what he wants to do.