A bombshell Brazilian mayor is on the lam after allegedly stealing millions from her town’s struggling schools while living the high life in a town 150 miles away and conducting her mayoral duties through the WhatsApp cellphone app.
The 25-year old Lidiane Leite, who oversaw one of the country's poorest municipalities, Bom Jardim in the northern state of Maranhão, documented on her Instagram account her lavish lifestyle with pictures of her sipping champagne at nightclubs and posing with friends on holiday getaways.
"Before I was mayor, I was poor and had a Land Rover," she wrote on Instagram, according to Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo. "Now I'm in a Toyota SW4. I should have bought a better car, because thank God, money is no longer a problem."
Leite’s local reign came to an abrupt end when a federal investigation found that $4 million had been taken from the town’s coffers. The Bom Jardim school system is now in disarray and teachers are not being paid.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Leite and her boyfriend/political advisor, Beto Rocha. If she doesn't turn herself in by Tuesday, a state judge has vowed to seek an international arrest warrant for her.
Rocha himself tried to run for mayor in 2012, but his attempt was thwarted due to corruption charges against him. Leite’s lawyer, Carlos Barros, blames him for the charges now embroiling her.
"She was too young and inexperienced when she took office," he told the BBC. "She lacked confidence and delegated many tasks to Mr. Rocha."
Leite's former deputy mayor has been sworn into office and has promised to carry out a full investigation of her dealings.