POMPANO BEACH — A former member of a Pompano Beach redevelopment advisory board was arrested Monday, April 12 in connection with charges that he allegedly used his official position to pressure firms for money, for his own personal financial gain.
Vicente Thrower, 30, of Pompano Beach, is charged with three counts of unlawful compensation and one count of bribery, all felonies. The investigation continues, and other people could face charges, also.
Thrower’s attorney, Michael Hursey, did not respond to several calls seeking comment.
“Someone who is elected or appointed to a governmental position has a duty to serve the public, not himself,” Broward State Attorney Michael Satz said in a Monday, April 12 statement shortly after Thrower surrendered at the Broward Main Jail in downtown Fort Lauderdale. “Otherwise, our society suffers. This is an example of a public servant who clearly was not there to serve the public.”
Thrower, a former member of the city of Pompano Beach’s West Community Redevelopment Agency (WCRA) advisory board, turned himself in to authorities on Monday morning. His arrest came just days after the South Florida Times published details of the investigation and Thrower’s pending arrest in its Friday, April 9 edition.
The unlawful compensation charges stem from Thrower’s alleged acceptance of over $50,000 in consulting fees from developers in exchange for his support of deals that the companies had pending before the WCRA.
The state attorney’s investigation found that Thrower allegedly accepted, and never disclosed, $25,000 in consulting fees he received from Habitat for Humanity of Fort Lauderdale, a non-profit affordable housing organization. The money was in exchange for his help in convincing the city to purchase a parcel of property from the organization for $1.6 million.
There is also $22,000 in consulting fees that Thrower allegedly received from developer Lavish Homes [Midtown Village LLC], which was seeking $1.05 million from the WCRA for an affordable-housing development.
Thrower also allegedly received $3,250 in consulting fees from Pompano Beach Living LLC for his efforts in helping the company obtain a zoning change, according to investigators.
The bribery charge involves Thrower’s alleged solicitation of a $2,000 monthly payment from International Enterprise Development, a firm that manages the city’s micro-loan program, as a condition of his support for renewing the firm’s contract.
Thrower performed consulting and lobbying work on an individual basis for several other developers, including the La Cite’ Development, LLC firm. He was also the founder, president and CEO of Global Solutions & Government Consultants, Inc., a company that lobbied on behalf of developers and small businesses.
That firm was formed in 2007 and was administratively dissolved a year later, according to records on file with the Florida Division of Corporations.
Prosecutors would not say whether any of the firms that hired Thrower’s company or that paid Thrower directly are being targeted, but they acknowledged that their investigation is “ongoing.”
“We're not in a position to discuss the particulars of the case, as it remains ongoing.” Broward State Attorney’s Office spokesperson Ron Ishoy said in an email.
Thrower has served on various city advisory boards for years. His tenure had long been the subject of speculation and accusations that he sought money in exchange for his support of projects pending before the WCRA. In 2009, Pompano Beach City Commissioner Woodrow Poitier reappointed him to the WCRA board.
“I heard rumors a while ago, but nothing materialized. At the time, it was told [to] me [that] he was being investigated officially by the state attorney’s office, I was not totally surprised,” Poitier said in an email about Thrower. “I always had a problem with Vicente telling people that he represented me, and that he spoke for me. I ran a lot of interference conversations telling people that he did not represent me, nor did he speak for me.”
Each of the four felony charges against Thrower carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Photo: Vicente Thrower