FORT LAUDERDALE – A federal grand jury is determining whether Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion Jr. should be indicted on public corruption charges, the South Florida Times has learned.
The grand jury has convened in Broward County on Eggelletion’s case after nearly two years of separate investigations conducted by state, local and federal agencies, according to several sources who wish to remain anonymous.
Among other issues, the case involves Eggelletion’s relationship with Coral Springs-based developer Prestige Homes of South Florida, Inc., including Eggelletion’s county commission votes on the company’s construction projects. The projects first came before the county commission in 2006.
Part of the investigation centers on the fact that someone believed to be connected to the company allegedly gave nearly $8,000 in cash to the Parkland Golf & Country Club in 2007 for Eggelletion’s one-year membership dues there, which the South Florida Times reported last year.
Eggelletion has not responded to repeated calls and emails seeking comment. As details about the case come to light, county hall is awash in rumors that the commissioner’s resignation is imminent, though no resignation letter has surfaced.
Eggelletion is represented by high-powered Pompano Beach criminal defense attorney Johnny McCray Jr. Federal agents have been in contact with McCray concerning the case, sources said, but no negotiations have taken place and Eggelletion has not testified in the proceedings.
McCray confirmed that he is representing Eggelletion in the matter, but would not elaborate on any of the allegations pending against the county commissioner.
“I am representing him, but at this time we are not commenting at all,” McCray said.
Repeated calls and emails sent to law-enforcement agencies involved in the investigations resulted in “no comment’’ responses. Among the investigating agencies are the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Broward State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, sources said.
Jurors have been viewing documents, listening to testimony, and considering the evidence for several months, according to sources.
Sources also said that Bruce Chait, president of Prestige Homes of South Florida, Inc., is represented by prominent Fort Lauderdale defense attorney J. David Bogenschutz.
Reached at his Coral Springs office Wednesday morning, Chait abruptly slammed down the phone when asked if he had testified or had been invited or subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.
Bogenschutz did not respond to messages left at his office seeking comment.
Prestige Homes is the developer of numerous projects, including two residential projects in Tamarac on the former Monterey and Sabal Palm golf courses. The projects were built on 176 acres of the two courses, which are on the grounds of the Mainlands condominiums.
In the face of stiff opposition from residents, Prestige Homes received city, and then county approval to change zoning and land-use laws to move forward with construction on the residential projects. Eggelletion provided verbal support and cast his vote for the project.
The projects sparked opposition from neighbors due to concerns about congestion and overdevelopment. 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 10 closed courses.
Eggelletion, 60, first entered politics in March 1991 after then-Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed him to the Lauderdale Lakes City Commission to finish out the term of Commissioner Sol Rossman, who died in office.
A year later, Eggelletion ran for the permanent job without opposition. In November 1992, Eggelletion ran unopposed for the District 94 Florida House of Representatives seat, and went on to win reelection three times; serving eight consecutive years in the state Legislature.
In 2000, he defeated the late Pompano Beach City Commissioner E. Pat Larkins in the primary election, and then-Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Carlton Moore in the general election, to win his seat on the county commission, where he represents the predominantly black District 9.
If Eggelletion is convicted of a crime as a result of official misconduct, he would be removed from office, and also stands to lose his pension.
Gov. Charlie Crist would appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of Eggelletion’s term, or until county commissioners schedule a special election for his replacement.
Pictured above is Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion Jr.