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Robert Wexler

Robert Wexler

By Dan Christensen, browardbulldog.org

South Florida U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler’s 13-year sojourn in Congress is almost over, but his campaign – or rather his campaign’s fat bank account – will run on indefinitely.

But the Wexler campaign’s final takeaway is likely to be lighter than the congressman expects. The reason: the apparent total loss of Wexler’s unusual and secretive investment of $150,000 in campaign funds in a business associate’s real estate company.

Records show that Wexler’s campaign had nearly $1 million cash on hand at the end of September. And by the time the congressman finishes paying bills, handing out staff bonuses and contributing to fellow Democrats his campaign will finish with about $700,000, his chief of staff said.

“He hasn’t decided what to do with the rest of it and wants to keep his options open. It will be there for him if he wants the option of returning to public service,” said Eric Johnson.

Zachariah Zachariah

Zachariah Zachariah

Mammen Zachariah

Mammen Zachariah

By Dan Christensen, browardbulldog.org

The former chairman of the Florida Board of Medicine and another Fort Lauderdale physician have agreed to pay substantial sums to settle federal civil charges of insider stock trading.

Dr. Mammen P. Zachariah, appointed to the board of medicine by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2004, and Dr. Sheldon Nassberg allegedly reaped illegal windfalls by acting on stock tips supplied by Mammen Zachariah’s brother, prominent Broward heart specialist and major Republican fundraiser, Dr. Zachariah P. Zachariah.

Zach Zachariah, who has raised millions of dollars for Republican causes and candidates – including both Presidents Bush, faces similar charges, but has declined to settle his case.  A federal magistrate has set trial for Aug. 23, 2010.

John Zumwalt, PBS&J chairman and chief executive

John Zumwalt, PBS&J chairman and chief executive

By Dan Christensen, browardbulldog.org

Political gridlock in Washington has let one of Broward’s biggest government contractors off the hook for any liability in a decades-long scheme to win contracts by shoveling out illegal campaign contributions.

PBS&J was not charged with a crime two years ago when its two immediate past chairmen pleaded guilty in federal court in Miami to running the fraud and trying to conceal it from authorities. Instead, prosecutors sent the case to the Federal Election Commission for civil enforcement.

The case was high-profile. A crew of influential politicians received illegal contributions from PBS&J executives, including former U.S. Senators Mel Martinez, a Florida Republican, and Max Cleland, a Georgia Democrat – and PBS&J had projects with cities and government agencies throughout the state.

By Dan Christensen, browardbulldog.org

An obscure Fort Lauderdale businessman with international connections and a history of helping the FBI was a paid informant in the U.S. government’s case against suspended Broward commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, court records show.

How much the government paid Patrick J. Lochrie, and what he did to earn that money, was not disclosed and prosecutors would not comment.

Josephus Eggelletion

Josephus Eggelletion

“Prospective government witness Pat Lochrie received payments for his work in this case from the FBI. The dates and amounts of the payments will be set forth in a separate correspondence,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Karadbil told the court in a document filed last week.

Eggelletion, a Democrat, is set to plead guilty in federal court in West Palm Beach on Thursday morning to conspiracy to launder $900,000 that a federal information says he knew was the proceeds of an investment fraud. He will become the first elected county official convicted in the FBI’s ongoing undercover probe of public corruption in Broward.

Scott Rothstein

Scott Rothstein

By Dan Christensen, browardbulldog.org

 
Jailed ex-lawyer Scott Rothstein arranged a $6 million loan at a high rate of interest last spring to a subsidiary of The Las Olas Company, the struggling owner of Fort Lauderdale’s Riverside Hotel, county land records show.

Las Olas Company president and chairman Irving Bowen mortgaged the venerable hotel to obtain the short-term loan. Three months later, he was fired by the company’s board of directors.

Barbara Wells, heiress to a large Broward family fortune that includes The Las Olas Company, sued Bowen in August for allegedly squandering “tens of millions of dollars” of her corporate and trust fund money. She claimed Bowen used her riches to live the high life, while “running the company into the ground.”

Without naming Rothstein, the lawsuit cites the one-year, $6 million loan as an example of Bowen’s alleged mismanagement. It says Bowen agreed to an initial interest rate of 14 percent, and a rise to 18 percent after six months “even though another loan for the same amount at a much lower interest rate was available to the company.”

Bowen declined to discuss the lawsuit, the mortgage loan or say why he went to a law firm and not a bank to borrow $6 million for The Las Olas Company.