Broward fraud investigator charged in car-keying incident

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Brittany Wallman and Megan O'Matz

Published September 21, 2016


After diving into his stepdaughter's neighborhood squabbles, a well-known top official at the property appraiser's office has been charged with a crime, accused of keying a car to get revenge.

Ron Cacciatore, a former captain at Broward Sheriff's Office who was the right-hand man to the late Sheriff Nick Navarro, stands charged with one misdemeanor count of criminal mischief, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

The case, originally referred as a potential felony, was transferred by the governor to Miami-Dade after Broward State Attorney Michael Satz said he knew Cacciatore too well.

The top fraud sleuth at the property appraiser's office is accused of etching two deep scratches into the 2003 Ford Focus driven by Weston homeowners association president Jacqueline Puglisi, 73. Surveillance video showed Cacciatore standing between his car and hers, in a parking lot last Oct. 13, when the keying allegedly occurred.

A Weston homeowner association president found her car scratched after a community meeting.

It may be among the lowliest crimes of passion, but the alleged car-keying was taken seriously at Village Homes at Country Isles in Weston, where Cacciatore's 44-year-old stepdaughter, Christine Lynn Ragsdale, who also goes by Christine Williams, and Puglisi live.

Ragsdale and her parents have been locked in bitter battle with homeowner leaders there for five years. The subject matter is typical homeowner association fodder, such as accusations she walked her dogs without a leash.

Jeff Lang, association manager there, said he was satisfied with the state attorney's decision.

He said the association paid for the damage to Puglisi's car and would like to be repaid. After the vandalism, the organization installed cameras around Puglisi's home "to give her peace of mind," Lang said.

"It's an unfortunate, sad situation that it's come to this," he said of the criminal filing.

Ragsdale filed a civil suit against the homeowners association in February 2016. The case is still pending.

The suit alleges the association has "fined and otherwise harassed" her over landscaping changes she made, the installation of concrete pavers and even improper mulching.

After a lifetime in law enforcement, Ron Cacciatore now finds himself on the other end of a criminal investigation, one with roots in the most mundane of South Florida scraps – a neighborhood association dispute.

Puglisi told the Sun Sentinel on Wednesday that the incident "put me in a terrible state of mind" and frightened her.

She called the vandalism "disgraceful," especially if committed, as charged, by a former police officer who holds "quite a position" of authority.

"I believe that he should be held responsible for his actions. He's not above the law."

Incoming Property Appraiser Marty Kiar said he would "under no circumstances" remove Cacciatore from his post.

"I believe folks are innocent until proven guilty," Kiar said, "but if he was found guilty, it still in my opinion would not effect his employment with the Broward County Property Appraiser's Office. ... He's saved a ton of money for the people of Broward County."

Cacciatore did not return a call for comment. His case will be handled in the Broward courts, Dutko said.