FORT LAUDERDALE – Already suspended from office following an indictment on federal money-laundering charges, Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion Jr. on Thursday surrendered to authorities on state corruption charges.
Eggelletion turned himself in at the Broward Main Jail in downtown Fort Lauderdale at 11:30 a.m. He was charged and booked in an expedited process commonly known as a “walk through” on one count of unlawful compensation. He bonded out on a $3,200 surety bond.
The state criminal charge is related to his allegedly receiving a one-year membership at the posh and exclusive Parkland Golf & Country Club, paid for by a developer.
The membership dues were paid in exchange for Eggelletion’s support of projects that the company had pending before the county commission, according to the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
The federal money-laundering case is pending, and is unrelated to this week’s charges.
“The Broward State Attorney’s Office today charged suspended Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion with one charge of receiving unlawful compensation, a second-degree felony,” Broward State Attorney’s Office spokesman Ron Ishoy wrote in a statement released shortly after Eggelletion bonded out of jail.
“The charge follows a lengthy investigation into allegations that Commissioner Eggelletion received a $3,200 golf membership at Parkland Golf and Country Club from Shawn Chait, a representative of Prestige Homes of South Florida Inc., in exchange for nearly three years of favorable treatment for Prestige Homes on business before the county commission.”
Though both sides are declining comment, state prosecutors for weeks have been negotiating with Eggelletion and his attorney, Johnny McCray Jr., to reach a plea agreement, according to sources.
McCray acknowledged having discussions with prosecutors, but said no deal has been reached.
“We’ve had some talks, but what we did agree to was a reduced bond and prior notification so my client could turn himself in, and not be handcuffed and arrested,” McCray said.
“We will not agree to anything that would adversely affect the federal case,” he said, but declined to elaborate.
A source familiar with the case who requested anonymity said that Eggelletion is close to agreeing, in principle, to pleading guilty to the one count of unlawful compensation.
Thursday’s surrender reportedly came as a result of those negotiations.
In exchange for the reduced charge, Eggelletion will also resign from his county commission seat. He is currently suspended from office pending resolution of the criminal cases, and the governor will appoint someone to fill the seat until a resolution has been reached.
The source familiar with the case confirmed that under the terms of the plea deal, prosecutors would not ask the pension board to take away Eggelletion’s state pension.
Such a deal could allow Eggelletion to focus on the more serious federal money laundering charges, which are not directly related to his official duties or public office.
In the federal investigation, agents arrested Eggelletion on Sept. 23 in connection with a money-laundering scheme and other investigations that also netted Broward School Board Member Beverly Gallagher and former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman.
Eggelletion’s resignation would trigger a special election; which would likely take place in March 2010, when other municipal elections are scheduled.
“We’re not in a position to chat about that at this point,” Ishoy said in response to questions about a rumored plea deal being reached. “There are a lot of things going on, and we really can’t talk about it.”
The State Attorney’s Office has also reopened a separate investigation that it closed three years ago into Eggelletion’s lobbying activities.
That investigation – closed on March 13, 2006 but reopened earlier this year – cleared Eggelletion of any wrongdoing after he allegedly received money from developers that had projects pending before government officials in Lauderdale Lakes and St. Lucie County.
The State Attorney’s Office close-out memo from the first investigation states that Eggelletion received $10,000 for lobbying on behalf of United Homes in St. Lucie County.
The developer also had another project pending before the Lauderdale Lakes City Commission, and needed some approvals from the Broward County Commission to complete that project.
Photo: Josephus Eggelletion