By Dan Christensen, browardbulldog.org
Suspended Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion has agreed to plead guilty to a new federal information filed Tuesday that charges him with conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to a trio of sources.
Federal court records show that in exchange for Eggelletion’s plea, prosecutors have agreed to cap the amount of prison time he will do at five years. He can also be fined up to $250,000.
The maximum sentence for conspiracy to commit money laundering is 20 years.
“Mr. Eggelletion is fully apologetic for his actions and intends to rectify, to the extent he can, his conduct and has communicated that interest to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said defense attorney Benedict Kuehne, who declined further comment.
Eggelletion’s other attorneys include former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey of Miami and Pompano Beach’s Johnny L. McCray Jr.
Eggelletion, 60, of Lauderdale Lakes, is to appear Wednesday at an 11 a.m. arraignment in Fort Lauderdale before U.S. Magistrate Robin S. Rosenbaum where he is expected to file an initial plea of not guilty. He has agreed to change that not guilty plea to guilty at another hearing to be set within a few weeks, sources said.
Eggelletion’s guilty plea would make him the first elected county leader to be convicted in the FBI’s ongoing undercover probe of public corruption in Broward.
Suspended Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher and former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman were also arrested in the federal sting that netted Eggelletion in September. Gallagher and Salesmen were charged with bribery, honest services fraud, and extortion.
The government’s 13-page information against Eggelletion is signed by both Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman and Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Karadbil.
The accusations against Eggelletion are virtually the same as those made in the FBI’s criminal complaint at the time of his arrest.
The FBI began its probe in April 2005 and used a trio of undercover agents who posed as a pair of asset managers and their boss. They were introduced to Eggelletion by Salesman in February 2006.
In what prosecutors have said were a series of recorded meetings, Eggelletion introduced the agents to co-defendants Joel Williams and Ronald Owens and said they could help the agents hide assets in the Bahamas. Authorities have said Eggelletion remarked that in the Bahamas he did not have the ethical restrictions he had in the U.S.
The information says that in December 2006 the agents told Eggelletion they were looking to hide proceeds from fraudulent investment scheme.
“Eggelletion stated that he would not introduce them to someone that would harm them,” the information says.
Eggelletion, Williams, Owens and Bahamas lawyer Sidney Cambridge later allegedly laundered $900,000 they thought were proceeds from the fraud. The money went from an account in Miami through the Bahamas and on to an account in St. Croix controlled by the FBI, prosecutors said.
Eggelletion and the others allegedly split a fee of seven percent of the total laundered. Eggelletion’s share was about $23,000, authorities have said.
Eggelletion, a Democrat, was elected to the county commission in 2000, and served as mayor from November 2006 to November 2007. Prior to joining the commission he was a state legislator for eight years.
On Monday, Gov. Charlie Crist named Dania Beach City Commissioner Al Jones to fill Eggelletion’s seat on the nine member county commission. Jones, a Republican, has served on the Broward School Board and the South Broward Hospital District.