Palm Beach County Ethics

Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics

Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics

Kristin A. Vara-Garcia - Chair Michael S. Kridel - Vice Chair
Rodney G. Romano Peter L. Cruise Michael H. Kugler

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March 7, 2024 COE Agenda and Attachments

Next Meeting: Commission on Ethics Monthly Meeting - Thursday, July 11, 2024 - 1:30 p.m. - Robert Weisman Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Ave, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 - 6th floor BCC Chambers

Agenda and Attachments 

Click here to watch the meeting live on Channel 20

Recent Updates:

Pocket Card

Kristin Vara-Garcia has a wide range of experience from transactional to litigation. Ms. Vara-Garcia works for the School District of Palm Beach County in the Office of General Counsel as a senior attorney in the Business Operations group. Prior to joining the School District, Ms. Vara-Garcia was a real estate attorney in private practice and an Assistant State Attorney in Palm Beach County. 

Ms. Vara-Garcia is dedicated to serving both the legal community and community at large. She currently serves as the Treasurer of Guild of Catholic Lawyers of the Dioceses of Palm Beach and is a volunteer for GTS Husky Rescue. Ms. Vara-Garcia also a Member of the Palm Beach County Bar Association and has served as the co-chair/moderator of the real estate/transactional section of the Palm Beach County Bench Bar for the last two years. 

A native Floridian, Ms. Vara-Garcia graduated cum laude from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminology before earning her law degree from Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad College of Law, where she graduated cum laude. While at Nova, Ms. Vara-Garcia served as a Teaching Assistant for Professor Polli Camille Lamar in Legal Research and Writing, was a law clerk at a South Florida insurance defense firm, and a certified legal intern at the State Attorney’s Office in Broward County. She is also a published author whose article “Espionage: A Comparative Analysis” was nominated for multiple awards and published in the ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law.



Michael S. Kridel, CPA, CFF, CITP, CFC, Vice Chair - Appointed by the Palm Beach Chapter of Association of Certified Fraud Examiners

Michael Kridel is a Certified Public Accountant and Shareholder in Michael S. Kridel, C.P.A., P.A., in Delray Beach. He holds the Certified in Financial Forensics, Certified Information Technology Professional and Certified Forensic Consultant designations as well as others. Mr. Kridel has practiced public accounting in South Florida since graduation from The George Washington University. Prior to reestablishing his named practice in 2018, he was a Partner in Daszkal Bolton for 17 years and then a Principal in Rehmann Robson for nearly 5 years. He previously practiced as a sole practitioner. Mr. Kridel has provided accounting, tax and litigation services in a broad range of matters including family law, stockholder actions, financial damages, fraud detection, criminal and civil tax matters, wrongful discharge and professional malpractice defense.

Mr. Kridel is a frequent speaker and author, garnering numerous awards, at national and local conferences for accountants and attorneys on topics such as litigation services, professional ethics, eDiscovery, practice management, information technology and human resources. He is a certified ethics instructor for CPAs in Florid , an online instructor in forensic accounting courses for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a guest instructor at Florida Atlantic University and other institutions. He is a longtime member of the Editorial Review Panels of the Journal of Accountancy and Florida CPA Today. Mr. Kridel has been a Rotarian since 1986 and is a board member of multiple not-for-profit organizations.

For more than 25 years, Mr. Kridel has facilitated an award-winning seminar, Ethical Decision Making in the Workplace and Society, for Broward County high schools, positively influencing in excess of 15,000 seniors. He is also the accounting profession’s representative member of the Education Advisory Committee of the Florida Board of Accountancy.

Rodney G. Romano, Esquire   - Appointed by the Palm Beach County League of Cities, Inc.

Rodney Romano is a Florida Licensed Attorney and Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator. He founded Matrix Mediation in 2006 to bring a next level of excellence and consistency to the mediation profession. Mr. Romano has conducted more than 22,000 hours of circuit civil mediations and has been a member of the Florida Supreme Court appointed Mediator Qualifications and Disciplinary Review Board since 2009. Rodney is a former Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney and served 4 terms as Mayor of the City of Lake Worth, Florida.

Mr. Romano earned his law degree from Nova Southeastern University and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University. Prior to admission to the Florida Bar, Rodney was a Florida Licensed Nursing Home Administrator and a Florida Certified General Contractor.

Rodney is a licensed (non-current) private pilot and Nitrox certified scuba diver, and a lifelong resident of Palm Beach County. He is married to Lynnette and has five children and three grandchildren.
For a more detailed resume, please see

Peter L. Cruise, Ph.D. - Appointed by Florida Atlantic University

Peter Cruise is Executive Director of the LeRoy Collins Public Ethics Academy and Affiliate Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic University. Both his academic and professional careers have been focused on improving the ethical climate in public sector programs and organizations.

Since graduating with his Ph.D. in Public Administration from FAU in 1995, Dr. Cruise taught ethics and organizational behavior to both undergraduate and graduate students atuniversities such as California State University-Chico, Golden Gate University, Louisiana State University and Mary Baldwin University. Before beginning his academic life, his professional career started in West Palm Beach in the early 1980s, working at St. Mary’s Hospital, the Palm Beach Blood Bank, and later at Martin Memorial Hospital in Stuart.

In addition to many published articles, he is the co-editor of the Handbook of Organization Theory and Management: The Philosophical Approach (2nd Edition, 2006). In April 2015, Dr. Cruise was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus by the faculty of the College of Design and Social Inquiry at Florida Atlantic University.

Michael H. Kugler, Esquire - Appointed by the Hispanic Bar Association of Palm Beach County, in conjunction with the F. Malcolm Cunningham, Sr. Bar Association and the Palm Beach County Bar Association

Michael H. Kugler is a personal injury attorney with Goldlaw, who has dedicated his career to obtaining justice through our court system on behalf of all categories of victims. He approaches his cases with tenacity, compassion, and respect. He has the ability to relate with all victims in a unique and honest way that they know he is fighting for them.  Mr. Kugler litigates cases on behalf of individuals and families who have been wronged by the negligence of others.  He handles also personal injury matters including automobile and trucking crashes, premises liability, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, and product liability.

Mr. Kugler began his legal career at the Office of the State Attorney in Palm Beach County. With over 100 jury trials, Mr. Kugler prosecuted every crime from DUI to Capital Sexual Battery to the Death Penalty. As a vital member of the Special Victims Unit, Mr. Kugler prosecuted the most violent predators in our community and gave a voice to child victims of sexual abuse. Mr. Kugler is a member of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) for Palm Beach County, which created and runs the county's first dedicated sexual assault examination site. The examination site coordinates the medical, law enforcement, forensic, and legal response to sexual violence in the community. Mr. Kugler gained national media attention with his prosecution of a former WPTV Weatherman who sexually preyed on young and vulnerable teenagers.

Originally from California, Mr. Kugler came to South Florida on an academic scholarship to the University of Miami where he obtained his Bachelor of Business Administration. Before attending law school at Nova Southeastern University, Mr. Kugler was a licensed stock broker working for a boutique broker dealer in Boca Raton. While at Nova Southeastern University Law School, Mr. Kugler was a member of multiple mock trial teams, and the Vice President of the school's trial organization.
Mike Kugler, Esq.