A Family Affair: Tax Collector Violated Nepotism Laws, Family Members Profited

Problems are mounting for longtime incumbent Seminole County Tax Collector Ray Valdes.

By Jacob Engels

Last month, the Seminole County Post exposed career politician and almost 30-year incumbent Tax Collector Ray Valdes for violating the law by not reporting his full income on his Form-6 disclosure form.

Additionally, we uncovered over 100 properties connected to shell corporations tied to Valdes, proving the incumbent Tax Collector profited handsomely from the very system he oversees.

You can read that full report here, which exposes Valdes for using insider information to increase his net worth by the millions.

WFTV and the Orlando Sentinel also published their own independent stories highlighting Valdes’ abuse of office for personal gain. See those here and here.

Now, the Seminole County Post has learned that Valdes, who is currently under investigation by multiple state agencies, hired a close family member and placed her in a key supervisory role.

Fidela Denny, is Valdes’ sister-in-law and was hired by the Tax Collector in the 90’s, and was up until recently still serving in a supervisory role at the Seminole County Tax Collector’s Lake Mary office.

We are awaiting employment records to determine the scope and responsibilities of that role and will post that information when we have it.

This hire is in direct violation of Florida Statute 112.3125, as it prohibits those in charge of county agencies from hiring relatives tied to those serving as the head of said county government agencies, like the Seminole Tax Collector’s office. `

And it seems that Mr. Valdes quickly schooled his sister-in-law on how to use her power in the Tax Collector’s office for personal gain, as Denny was also a regular bidder on items that she and Valdes oversaw and organized in their roles in the Tax Collector’s office.

Denny purchased dozens of items through the very office she oversaw as a supervisor, joining Valdes’ daughter, who regularly bid at auction and sometime transferred items to her father. Valdes’ daughter, Victoria Lea Kattel, sometimes receives and sends deeds to Mr. Valdes.

This directly contradicts what Valdes has told reporters and investigators with state agencies investigating ethics violations and public corruption.

With these new revelations, it has become clear that Valdes’ corruption and use of insider information has become a family affair.

He lies on his financial disclosure forms, he uses his office for personal gain, and ropes his family members into his twisted and illegal scheme.

Ray Valdes, the Hillary Clinton of Seminole County. For them, elected office is about personal gain… not the people’s work.

Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at info@seminolecountypost.com