Father, Son Get Probation In Public Corruption Case
Updated On: Aug 27 2010 08:07:06 AM EDT
A father and son team who helped prosecutors in a corruption case against a Broward County commissioner pleaded guilty Thursday to unlawful compensation.
Bailiffs booked Broward County developers Bruce and Shawn Chait moments after their plea.
The father and son admitted they bought an expensive golf membership at an exclusive Parkland country club for former Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion in exchange for his yes vote on their plan to build a massive housing development in Tamarac.
Eggelletion is serving two and a half years in prison for accepting the bribe.
"What happened here is the state of Florida didn't have this information and the only reason they had it is because Shawn and Bruce Chait gave it to them," said David Bogenschutz, the Chaits' attorney.
Prosecutors dropped two of three counts against the Chaits in exchange for their cooperation in the state's wide-ranging public corruption investigation.
"They are providing significant cooperation, and I think cooperation probably that we've never seen before. And because of that cooperation, we're proceeding," said Tim Donnelly, of the Broward State Attorney's Office.
Donnelly said the Chaits' testimony has already paid off.
In June, Tamarac Commissioner Patricia Atkins-Grad was charged with unlawful compensation amid accusations that she accepted money from the Chaits to pay for an election victory party and the lease on her BMW.
More arrests could follow. In sworn statements released to the Sun-Sentinel this week, the Chaits have implicated several other local politicians in their illegal efforts to get their housing project passed, including Broward County Commissioners Ilene Leiberman and Stacy Ritter, Tamarac Mayor Beth Flansbaum-Talabisco and Broward School Board member Stephanie Kraft.
None of those elected leaders have been charged with any crimes, but the Chaits' attorney expects more arrests.
"I know the evidence they have in some of them and I certainly think they have more than enough evidence to move forward in all of them," Bogenschutz said.
The Chaits were facing 35 years in prison on the original three counts against them. With their change of plea, Bruce and Shawn Chait each got four years of probation. In fact, Shawn Chait will have the charge withheld from his record if he follows the rules of his probation.
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