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School Board member stands by staffer accused of trying to falsify Miami Beach records

@NewsbySmiley

Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado is standing by her chief of staff amid allegations she tried to falsify records while overseeing real estate and community development for the city of Miami Beach.

Anna Parekh was fired in May after the city blamed her for the loss of more than $500,000 in housing grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Regalado hired her Sept. 16.

Three months later, Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales alleged that Parekh had asked an employee to sign and backdate time sheets related to work he didn't do as questions surfaced about affordable housing documentation. The review focused on work by the Miami Beach Community Development Corporation, which receives affordable housing funds from the city.

Morales said nearly $300,000 in double-billings was discovered. The state attorney’s office and HUD are investigating. Parekh’s attorney, however, said her client is a scapegoat and there’s no indication she is under investigation

“At no time did Anna Parekh direct others or personally produce any false time sheets,” attorney Sabrina Puglisi said.

“There are two sides of the story,” Regalado said Thursday. “I believe her side, which is why she’s part of my team.”

--DAVID SMILEY

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