A Brazilian mayor who controlled her town through WhatsApp messaging application, has been taken into police custody and sentenced to prison for embezzling millions from her city’s education budget.
Lidiane Leite was a mayor of a very poor town called Bom Jardim located in Brazil’s north-west region. After it became apparent that she had stolen money, she went on the run back in August 2015 but later turned herself in after 39 days on the run.
According to the details provided, the 27-year-old directed local officials using WhatsApp which she herself lived a life of luxury in Sao Luiz, which is the state capital of Maranho. She would never invest in the interest of her town and was later found to be stealing money from the health and education budgets.
Leite’s case went on for two-and-a-half years, at the end of which she was finally sentenced to 14 years and one month in prison, followed by six years of house arrest. She was found guilty of stealing £4.5m from an education fund.
Leite rose to power after her former boyfriend was found guilty of corruption and had to step down in the 2012 elections. Leite ran in his place and won, later appointing her boyfriend as her chief adviser. He was responsible for most of the town’s management.
When the couple broke up in 2015, that is when the corruption scheme began to reveal. It became apparent that something in wrong when the poor children stopped receiving free meals at their schools.
The authorities began to look at Leite’s social media feeds where she repeatedly bragged about her glamorous life of luxury.
One post on Instagram wrote: “Before I became mayor, I was poor. I had a Land Rover, now I drive a [Toyota] SW4. Maybe I should buy a more luxurious car, because – thank you God – I have enough money to do it,” adding, “I can buy whatever I want. I’m going to spend money on what I want and I don’t care what people say about me.”
It is being hoped that with this sentencing, others will be discouraged from plundering the state coffers.