June 11, 2023 –NBC 6- An employee for the clerk of the courts at the North Dade Justice Center pleaded not guilty Friday and demanded a jury trial as he faces three counts of fraud, official misconduct, and theft charges for allegedly stealing between $4,000 to $5,000 from customers.
Scott Kessler worked at the Miami-Dade justice center since 2011 where he assisted people seeking to pay traffic tickets and other court-related payments.
However, five customers received notices about failing to pay. An undercover operation was launched and video surveillance discovered Kessler apparently concealed cash on 25 occasions.
NBC6 obtained Kessler’s Miami-Dade work evaluations since 2011.
In his 2013 evaluation, a supervisor complimented how he attempted to “communicate in Spanish to assist with the Hispanic customers.
In 2014, he was considered “one of the most productive clerks.”
Over the first couple of years, Kessler was also complimented for his high level of accuracy, work attendance, and personable personality. However, after 2020 supervisors added more negative feedback.
In 2021, a court supervisor said, “During the last two rating periods, Mr. Kessler has made a few errors due to his lack of attentiveness in checking his finished work product. He is encouraged to build better organizational skills, which may allow him to produce a better work product.”
During his last recorded evaluation, a month before undercover cops started recording Kessler allegedly stealing cash, a supervisor wrote, “Mr. Kessler is encouraged to improve his neatness of his work product to avoid discrepancies. At times, Mr. Kessler’s work has been unreadable or has errors.”
While describing his work habits, the supervisor mentioned Kessler had attendance issues, arrived late to work, and was distracted.
Records did not show he was ever disciplined, however during disciplinary proceedings after his arrest, the Miami-Dade Clerks Office says Kessler resigned.
“Going forward, I want to reassure potential victims that my office is undergoing a full review and internal investigation to ensure that no one is harmed by this theft. This includes ensuring that a victim’s license is not suspended erroneously, that anyone who has paid their fines receives full credit for that payment, and that no victim is sent to collections as my office reviews these files,” said Luis G. Montaldo, Miami Dade Ad Interim Clerk of Courts. Adding, “Additionally, we have taken proactive steps and measures at our cash payment locations to safeguard the public.”
The former clerk is out on bond.