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By Dan Christensen, browardbulldog.orgpbsjLogo

PBS&J, the giant Florida-based government contractor already rocked by a pay to play scandal that led to guilty pleas by two of its former chairmen, has informed the Justice Department and federal securities regulators that it is investigating other possible crimes involving its overseas construction projects.

“The purpose of the internal investigation is to determine whether any laws have been violated, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [FCPA], in connection with certain projects undertaken by PBS&J International Inc., one of the company’s subsidiaries, in certain foreign countries,” chief financial officer Donald J. Vrana wrote in Dec. 30 filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C.

The FCPA prohibits corrupt payments to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or keeping business.

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.