Fitzroy Salesman’s political career has ended. The 53-year-old former Miramar city commissioner is now a convicted felon.
On Tuesday, April 6, a jury, after four and a half hours of deliberation, found Salesman guilty of two counts of bribery and two counts of extortion under color of official right.
He was acquitted of the two counts of honest services mail and wire fraud.
Salesman faces up to 60 years in prison, but sentencing guidelines fall between five and seven. He may also pay fines up to $1.5 million.
Salesman’s sentencing has been scheduled for July 8 before U.S. District Court Judge James I. Cohn.
The charges are a result of an undercover FBI operation initiated in 2005 to investigate public corruption in South Florida.
U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman told reporters that the April 6 verdict, combined with the guilty pleas of former Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion and fomer Broward County School Board Member Beverly Gallagher “sends a loud and clear message to public officials that ‘pay-to-play’ in Broward County is over.”
Sloman added that public officials who fail to heed his message “will be vigorously prosecuted.”
John V. Gillies, FBI Special Agent in Charge, said that the verdict demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to bring justice to “those who use their elected position for personal profit.”
Damaging evidence presented to the jury by the prosecution included hours of video and audio recordings of Salesman telling undercover FBI agents that they had to “pay to get lucrative government work in Broward.”
Two videos of Salesman accepting $3,340 from the undercover agents for steering Miramar city contract work were also presented.
According to court documents, during the time period from August 2005 to March 26, 2007, Salesman received $4,500 in four separate cash payments from FBI Special Agent Patrick Wren.
Also in the document, on April 11, 2006, Salesman, with no specific urging from an FBI agent or representative, reached out to the City of Miramar, from which he was suspended. The documents alledge that he continued to put together “deals” with Broward County through Eggelletion; Lauderdale Lakes through former City Commissioner and current state Rep. Hazelle Rogers and Lauderhill through City Commissioner Dale Holness, knowing that the target construction representatives were looking to pay off those public officials to obtain contracts.
While Salesman was on suspension, the document continued, he pushed the Miramar connection, starting with the gazebo project.
Evidence showed that Salesman let the undercover agents know that the city manager of Miramar “owed him” for what he had done for him while he was a sitting commissioner, and therefore he [Salesman] had the authority and influence with Miramar employees who could decide who receives city construction contracts.
From that point forward, Salesman continued to utilize his influence in Miramar.
Juror Jerry Frye, 74, of Southwest Ranches, told reporters that many jurors agreed with the defense that there had been some entrapment of Salesman by FBI agents who befriended him, but the jurors had to “follow the wording of the law.”
Salesman’s court-appointed attorneys, James Benjamin and Daniel Aaronson, said that they will immediately begin Salesman’s appeal. They offered no further comment.