FORT LAUDERDALE – Less than a week after he was sentenced to 30 months in prison on a federal money-laundering charge, former Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion plans to plead guilty to an unrelated state corruption charge.
“I can tell you that we have reached an agreement, and Joe [Eggelletion] will be changing his not guilty plea,” said Eggelletion’s attorney, Johnny L. McCray Jr. “We should be back in court no later than next week.”
Eggelletion is currently scheduled to appear before Broward Circuit Court Judge Michael A. Usan on March 31 to change his plea, but Eggelletion’s attorneys are seeking an earlier court date, perhaps some time next week.
Citing the ongoing status of the case, prosecutors in Broward State Attorney Michael Satz’s office are not commenting on whether or not they have struck a deal with Eggelletion.
But according to several sources, the agreement negotiated with Assistant State Attorney Jeanette Camacho calls for a 30-month prison sentence and no fine for Eggelletion.
As part of the deal, prosecutors will also close their investigation into Eggelletion’s brother, Andre Eggelletion, and his jingle company. Andre Eggelletion was accused of receiving money from developers whose projects came before the Broward County Commission on Josephus Eggelletion’s behalf.
As part of the plea deal, Josephus Eggelletion is also required to cooperate in dozens of other ongoing investigations, and he will waive any pre-sentence processes.
Josephus Eggelletion’s legal team will request that his punishment be levied at the time he changes his plea. He is scheduled to surrender to authorities with the federal Bureau of Prisons on May 3, to begin serving his federal time. His attorneys are seeking to have the 30-month state sentence run concurrently and coterminus with the federal sentence.
Coterminus means that both sentences would end at the same time. Eggelletion is battling alcoholism and has applied to the federal Bureau of Prisons to be admitted into a substance abuse program. If he is accepted and successfully completes such a program, he could have as much as one year knocked off his sentence under federal prison guidelines.
Under those conditions, Eggelletion could serve as little as 18 months on both the state and federal sentences, if Judge Usan accepts the agreement.
Usan can accept, reject, or alter the agreement. The judge is currently out of town attending a conference, and is not scheduled to return before March 29. Therefore, it us unlikely that the plea deal will come before the judge before the scheduled March 31 date, unless the case is transferred to another judge.
The plea deal with state prosecutors stems from Eggelletion’s Nov. 12, 2009 arrest and charge on one count of receiving unlawful compensation, a felony. The charge followed a six-year investigation by the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
The case centers on alleged bribes Eggelletion received from father and son developers Bruce and Shawn Chait. The alleged bribes were in exchange for Eggelletion’s support of projects the duo had pending before the county commission.
Eggelletion initially pleaded not guilty to the charge, but later began cooperating with prosecutors. He acknowledged in a sworn statement that he accepted an $8,400 golf and country club membership, and $25,000 in cash from the developers, who own Coral Springs-based Prestige Homes of South Florida.
Eggelletion also stated that he received an additional $3,200 bribe, which was stuffed inside his golf bag, and which was supposed to go toward the $8,400 country club membership.
As a result of his testimony, Bruce Chait, president of Prestige Homes, and his son, Shawn, were arrested Dec. 11, 2009. Each man was charged with one count of bribery and one count of unlawful compensation.
Additionally, Shawn Chait was charged with one count of perjury for denying that he paid $3,200 toward Eggelletion’s golf club membership. The cases against the pair remain pending.
McCray declined comment on the specifics of Eggelletion’s plea deal.
The deal on the state corruption charge comes just days after Eggelletion, 60, of Lauderdale Lakes, was sentenced on March 12 in an unrelated federal probe. In that case, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks sentenced Eggelletion to serve 30 months in a federal penitentiary. The judge handed down the sentence following Eggelletion’s guilty plea on one count of money laundering. He must also pay a $10,000 fine, and will remain on three years of supervised parole after being released in that case.
In the federal case, Eggelletion was arrested Sept. 24, 2009 at his home after a five-year undercover FBI operation. Eggelletion admitted accepting $23,000 from undercover agents who he believed were corrupt investment brokers.
The undercover agents paid Eggelletion in exchange for his help in laundering $900,000 from what he believed were the proceeds from a European investment scheme. Eggelletion then recruited others who set up offshore Bahamian bank accounts and wired money into those accounts. The agents also donated $5,000 to a youth golf charity Eggelletion formed.
Pictured above is Josephus Eggelletion.