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.
“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.
The former barber and school teacher will do no more than five years in prison under the deal worked out with prosecutors. He is also subject to a fine of up to $250,000.
“I dishonored myself and my office,” Eggelletion said in a statement issued Monday night by his lawyers. “I sincerely apologize to the community, to my many supporters, to the public at large for failing to uphold the honor and integrity of the office to which I was elected.”
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 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, South Florida businessmen Joel Williams and Ronald Owens and discussed hiding assets in The Bahamas for a fee. Eggelletion’s alleged share in the scheme was $23,000.
Owens agreed to cooperate with the FBI in January 2008, and the government later agreed to let him pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to defraud the United States.
Lochrie, a native of Ireland, was kept out of the public mix by prosecutors until now.
Federal court and state corporate records show that Lochrie was an executive with several Florida companies, some of which were fronts for FBI undercover sting operations.
In 2006, for example, Lochrie posed as a business associate of an FBI agent in a sting operation that targeted four principal shareholders and officers of Shimoda-Atlantic, a drug research firm in Bentonville, Arkansas. The four men were later indicted, but acquitted.
Before the charges were filed, Shimoda-Atlantic sued Lochrie and others alleging fraudulent inducement and securities act violations.
Court records show Shimoda-Atlantic contended Lochrie was “a thief and a con artist.’ As part of his defense, Lochrie filed affidavits with the court in which he acknowledged working on a number of investigations, including the Shimoda-Atlantic case.
Lochrie also stated that the Fort Lauderdale address he used for some of his companies, 1314 East Las Olas Boulevard #222, was “a fictitious address” used in undercover investigations.”
“Agents of the FBI routinely picked up mail at the above-referenced address,” he stated.
Shimoda-Atlantic called Lochrie “a thief and a con artist,’ but a judge found the argument unconvincing and dropped Lochrie as a defendant in April 2008. The judge dismissed the entire case a month later.
Lochrie’s attorney in the case was Fort Lauderdale’s Bruce Udolf, a former federal prosecutor. Udolf declined to discuss Lochrie on Monday.
In January 2007, a half a world away in the United Arab Emirates, the Dubai Financial Services Authority obtained a court order against Lochrie and a business colleague, David Carruthers for making false and misleading representations concerning their regulatory status regarding the Dubai International Financial Center.
Lochrie and Carruthers were also officers in Florida’s Amenni, LLC. Eight months later, in December 2005, a Florida company with a slightly different name was formed, Amenni Inc. Lochrie had different partners in that venture.
Last year, Lochrie was a manager in a Florida limited liability company whose partners included a felon, David Chapnick, and a former FBI agent, Ross Gaffney.
Chapnick served more than a year in prison in the mid-1990s after pleading guilty to numerous counts of grand theft and mortgage fraud related to the failure of Commonwealth Savings and Loan, run by his brothers Jason and Barry. Chapnick wasn’t a Commonwealth employee or officer, but collected fees from customers of his financial consulting firm by convincing clients he could get them loans.
Gaffney, a lawyer, was a fraud and money laundering expert for the Miami field office of FBI. He is today a private investigator in Plantation.