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September 24, 09

NEWS / Corruption Probe Leads to Charges Against Broward County Commissioner, School Board Member, Former M


Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael J. Folmar, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced the filing of federal corruption and other criminal charges against a current Broward County Commissioner, a current Broward County School Board Member, a former Miramar City Commissioner, a Bahamian attorney, and two South Florida businessmen. Charged today were defendants Josephus “Joe” Eggelletion, 60, of Lauderdale Lakes, Joel Williams, 54, of North Miami, Ronald Owens, 62, of Hallandale, Sidney Cambridge, 45, of Nassau, Bahamas, Beverly Gallagher, 51, of Pembroke Pines, and Fitzroy Salesman, 52, of Miramar. The defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court in Fort Lauderdale today, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow, except for defendant Cambridge who remains in the Bahamas.

This long-term undercover corruption investigation, led by the FBI, resulted in the filing of three separate complaints, charging the defendants with various federal criminal violations, including honest services mail and wire fraud, extortion under color of official right, bribery, and money laundering conspiracy. During the operation, FBI undercover agents purported to represent contractors seeking to obtain construction contracts with local government entities or seeking to hide proceeds from purported criminal activity.

In the case of Josephus Eggelletion, Joel Williams, Ronald Owens, and Sidney Cambridge, FBI undercover agents (“UCAs”) purported to represent an individual seeking to hide proceeds of illegal activity. To this end, in December 2006, the UCAs advised County Commissioner and Broward County Vice-Mayor Josephus Eggelletion that they sought to hide proceeds from an investment fraud scheme. In a series of recorded meetings, Eggelletion introduced the UCAs to defendants Williams and Owens as individuals who could help the UCAs hide assets in the Bahamas, where Eggelletion stated he did not have the same ethical restrictions as he did in the United States. To execute the scheme, Williams, Owens and the UCAs traveled to the Bahamas to meet with defendant Cambridge, a Bahamian attorney. Thereafter, the defendants allegedly agreed, in exchange for a cash fee to be shared among them, to launder the purported investment fraud proceeds though a Bahamian bank account to be established by defendant Cambridge. In this way, from March 23, 2007 through November 23, 2007, in a series of wire transfers, the defendants laundered approximately $900,000 from an account in Miami through the Bahamian account into an account controlled by the FBI in St. Croix. As well, the UCAs discussed an additional $200,000 and $500,000 transfer with Eggelletion and Owens, respectively, but none of these additional funds was actually transferred. The defendants received a total of 7 percent of the money laundered through the Bahamian account, of which defendant Eggelletion received approximately $23,000. As a result of these actions, defendants Eggelletion, Williams, Owens, and Cambridge were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h).

In another complaint, defendant Beverly Gallagher, a current member of the Broward School Board, was charged with wire fraud by depriving the citizens of her honest services, extortion under color of official right, and bribery in connection with a program receiving more than $10,000 in federal funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343 and 1346, 1951, and 666. In this instance, the FBI UCAs purported to represent two clients, a glass company and a project manager for a construction company, both of which sought to do business with the Broward County School District. In a series of meetings, emails, and phone calls, defendant Gallagher agreed to steer School Board business to the UCAs in exchange for cash payments. In one such meeting in November 2007, Gallagher told one of the UCAs that they could “make a lot of money together.” In another meeting in February 2008, she agreed to become a consultant to the UCAs to assist them in getting School Board work for their clients. Thereafter, from about February 2008 through June 3, 2009, defendant Gallagher allegedly misused her influence and her official position on the Broward County School Board to steer School Board business to the UCAs’ clients. For this, she allegedly accepted a total of approximately $12,500 in cash, delivered to her surreptitiously inside a day planner, a Broward County School Board envelope that she provided, and in other ways.

Lastly, the third Complaint charges defendant Fitzroy Salesman, while an active Commissioner for the City of Miramar, with committing mail fraud by depriving the citizens of his honest services, extortion under color of official right, and bribery in programs receiving more than $10,000 in federal funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 1346, 1951, and 666, respectively. In this case, the UCAs purported to be "quasi" lobbyists, seeking to obtain contracts with local government entities for construction contractor clients. According to the Complaint, Salesman succeeded in obtaining two contracts for the UCAs, one for the construction of a park gazebo and the other for the renovation of a gym floor. In sum, Salesman is alleged to have received a total of $3,340 while he was an active City of Miramar Commissioner, in exchange for his influence in steering these contracts to the UCAs and their clients.

“As a community, we must do all that we can to ensure that our public officials do not give into the temptation to betray their public trust for quick cash. Our work in Broward County will continue; we are not done,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman.

Michael J. Folmar, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Office, stated, “Communities have a right to expect that their elected leaders be ethical, trustworthy, and responsible, only representing the best interests of their constituents. The FBI and its law enforcement partners will continue to investigate those elected officials who choose to break the law. Public corruption is and will remain a top priority for the FBI.”

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, in connection with the investigation of this case. He also thanked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for their cooperation in this matter. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey N. Kaplan and Neil Karadbil.

A complaint is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

http://miami.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel09/mm092309.htm

Tags: criminal investigation,
 




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