BY BUDDY NEVINS
U. S. District Judge William Zloch isnâ€™t exactly a hanging judge. But he is one of the toughest judges in South Florida.
So Richard Rubin, who got a 10-month sentence from Zloch on Wednesday for income tax evasion, should consider himself lucky. He could have gotten five years.
Rubin, the husband of former County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin, failed to report $120,000 in income. He owed $35,000 in taxes on this money.
Iâ€™ve known Rubin for 20 years. None of this is a surprise.
He always reminded me of a remora. Thatâ€™s the fish that attaches itself to a shark and eats the morsels that fall from the hostâ€™s mouth. Rubin latched on to politics and fed off the crumbs that he could grab.
Diana Wasserman-Rubin has been his enabler for years. She is facing trial for voting for thousands of dollars worth of grants that paid her husband Rubin $45,000 in bonuses.
Or as The Sun-Sentinel quoted federal prosecutor Jeffrey Kaplan today: “The defendant and his wife have been feeding at the government’s trough for many, many years.â€
As far back as 1995, Rubin was getting public money from the School Board while his then-girlfriend Wasserman was a Board member. I wrote about it in the Sun-Sentinel.
Rubin got a $5,800 contract to help the school system draft rules for development. $5,800?
â€œThe figure of $5,800 is significant. The staff can hand out consulting contracts under $6,000 without having to take proposals from others wanting the job,â€ I wrote at the time.
Rubin was a land-use specialist. But he got the job after dating Diana Wasserman for a year.
When they married a few years later, several political insiders predicted confidentially that Richard would end up getting Diana in trouble. Alas, they were right.
Rubin had hoped to get off without prison time. No way, with Zloch on the bench.
Zloch’s Star Shined Before Taking The Bench
Many South Floridians know nothing about Zloch. He has been a federal judge for so long, we forget where he came from.
Zloch is Old Fort Lauderdale. Heâ€™s from a family who lived here long before the big influx of northerners changed Broward from a sleepy, conservative Southern town into a liberal metropolis.
He got a Catholic education from grade school through Law School. When other kids were rebelling their way through the 1960s, Zloch was a jock humping his way through high school, college, law school and Vietnam.
Zloch first hit the newspapers as a star quarterback at Fort Lauderdaleâ€™s Central Catholic High School, which later became St. Thomas Aquinas. He went on to play first-string quarterback for Notre Dame in 1965.
There was Notre Dame Law School and service in Vietnam. He then returned to a very low key civil law practice with an old Fort Lauderdale firm. In 1974, the Broward County Bar Association rewarded him for doing more pro bono work than any lawyer in the county.
His only memorable involvement in politics was as treasurer for Mike Satzâ€™s 1980 re-election as State Attorney. Five years later, this registered Democrat was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan.
In a Sun-Sentinel profile 11 years ago, lawyers who practiced in front of Zloch equated him with U. S. Supreme Court Justices William Rehnquist, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. They called him tough, conservative, no-nonsense and well-prepared, with a reputation for giving stiff sentences.
Zloch didnâ€™t live up to his billing Wednesday for stiff sentences.
Rubin underpaid his taxes and prosecutors charged he lied in court. He and his wife traveled extensively through Europe, the Caribbean and the United States, spending the money that was owed to Uncle Sam.
Ten months! Too little.
Wednesday will go down in Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse lore. It was the day Zloch handed out a light sentence.