FORT LAUDERDALE _ The Broward State Attorney’s Office plans to file criminal charges against a developer who allegedly bribed suspended Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion for support of the developer’s projects, according to sources familiar with the case.
Bruce Chait, president of Prestige Homes of South Florida, Inc. and his son, Shawn Chait, are expected to be charged, sources said.
Officials at the Broward State Attorney’s Office would not confirm or deny whether charges are forthcoming. An administrator in Broward State Attorney Michael Satz’s office said the case remains under investigation, but declined comment on any charges.
Calls to Bruce and Shawn Chait at their company’s corporate office in Coral Springs were not returned, nor were messages left at the offices of their attorney, J. David Bogenschutz.
Yet sources familiar with the case say charges are imminent, and may come as early as today. Prosecutors convened high-level meetings on the issue Thursday morning to consider possible unlawful compensation, bribery and perjury charges against the men.
The charges are related to bribes the firm allegedly paid Eggelletion for his support of development projects that the company had pending before the Broward County Commission.
Eggelletion is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach today, where he will plead guilty to one count of money laundering in a separate, federal case.
Sources say the charges against the Chaits will be filed, in part, as a result of statements Eggelletion provided to prosecutors during interviews in November, and as a condition of a pending plea deal in the case. Eggelletion was arrested Nov. 5 on a state charge of one count of unlawful compensation.
The Chaits allegedly paid Eggelletion over $50,000 in bribes, including as much as $8,000 in cash to the Parkland Golf & Country Club for Eggelletion’s membership dues there. The South Florida Times reported the payment last year.
Prestige Homes is the developer of numerous projects, including two residential projects in Tamarac, consisting of townhouses and condominiums, on the former Monterey and Sabal Palm golf courses. The projects were constructed on 176 acres of the two courses, on the grounds of the Mainlands condominiums.
In the face of stiff opposition from residents, Prestige Homes received city, then county approval to change zoning and land-use laws so that construction on the residential projects could move forward. Eggelletion gave verbal support and cast several votes for the projects.
The projects sparked opposition from neighbors due to concerns about congestion and too much development. The Mainlands are in Broward County Commission District 9, which Eggelletion represents.
According to a June 2007 Broward County study, there were 63 golf courses in the county, with 10 of them closed. Monterey and Sabal Palm were two of the closed courses.
Pictured above is Josephus Eggelletion.