Ethics Commission: Probable Cause Found That Plantation’s Petrocelli Broke Law


The wheels of justice grind slowly but they’ve finally gotten around to former Plantation Commissioner Rico Petrocelli.

In a three-year-old case, The Florida Commission on Ethics found probable cause to believe Petrocelli broke ethics laws by soliciting donations from those doing business with the city and then failing to report the money on his financial disclosure.

Petrocelli faces fines up to $10,000 for each of the three counts. He can ask for a full hearing on the charges or try to settle the complaint with the commission’s prosecutor.

Here is the verbatim from the commission’s news release Wednesday:

 “The Commission also considered a complaint filed against RICO PETROCELLI, former Plantation City Councilman. Probable cause was found to believe that Petrocelli solicited donations from individuals or entities who lobbied the Plantation City Council. Probable cause was also found that he accepted prohibited donations valued at more than $100 from individuals or entities that lobbied the City, and failed to report gifts valued at more than $100.”

The commission acted at their September 3 hearing after reading a report from a staff investigator, who interviewed numerous people in Plantation during the course of the probe.

Commission members also read an e-mail from Petrocelli contending he was “unable to afford the 8 hour trip and lodging” to attend the Tallahassee hearing, “let alone the $20-40,000 in legal fees to defend it with counsel. Not many options for an unemployed layperson.”

Petrocelli told commissioners that “all reports show I received no money” and that all the cash solicted went to honor special needs children at the holiday party.

The findings from the hearing were released Wednesday.

The complaint involves an incident three years ago. 

It alleged that Petrocelli solicited gifts from city vendors to the Plantation Athletic League. PAL then passed the money through its books to Petrocelli to pay for a holiday political party.

Negative publicity surrounding Petrocelli’s use of the PAL to further his political career helped cause his re-election defeat in March 2009.  It also resulted in a shakeup of the management of PAL by city hall.

Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Petrocelli to the Broward County Housing Authority in December 2009.  His term ends Oct. 31, 2013.

14 Responses to “Ethics Commission: Probable Cause Found That Plantation’s Petrocelli Broke Law”

  1. guesswhat says:

    I do recall the funds in question were around $3000. I know where that $3000 came from, I have said it before, but no one came to talk to me during their investigation.

  2. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    Buddy, do you really think Rico was personally profiting from his year end bash, where a bunch of mentally challenged kids were given a holiday bash and danced and enjoyed a disc jockey. the event wasn’t a political function, it made a lot of kids feel good about themselves.

    come on, get to the real bottom line. the powers in plantation, the traditional decade after decades old school powers, didn’t like Rico because he dared to question the status quo.

    Stone Cold, on point again, imagine that…

  3. Tommy Gee says:

    Petrocelli stained PAL by dragging the city through the mud. STONE COLD’S BOTTOM LINE claims incorrectly it was not a political function. Was STONE COLD there?
    Reelect Petrocelli and Reelect Robert Levy signs were on the wall. Petrocelli was handing out political brochures.
    Petrocelli asked businesses to donate money to PAL. He then took the money for himself. There is no excuse, even if a bunch of “mentally challenged kids” attended the party.
    Petrocelli should not run again ever!

  4. Happy Finally says:

    glad to see someone is finally gonna hand francis his ass

  5. hmmmmmmveryinteresting says:

    wondering why bob levy – who co-hosted the party was never investigated and is still in office? hmmmmmm.

  6. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    to “Tommy Gee”:

    Hey, Dummy, pinball machines, disc jockey, mentally challenged kids dancing, at Christmas time. Get real, or I will continue to level you with some Poltical Whup Ass…

    Go bitch about real issues, not this crap. Buddy knows the political powers who have run Plantation with an iron fist for decades hated Rico because he didn’t accept every thing on its face. I don’t think Buddy will admit it, but he knows it.

  7. Tommy Gee says:

    The ethics commission doesn’t agree with Cold Stone’s Bottom Line because they found probable cause. Petrocelli asked for lobbyists to donate to PAL. Then he had PAL cut him a check. If I was Petrocelli, I would be more worried about the IRS than the ethics commission

  8. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    to “Tommy Gee”:

    Dummy, he spent the money on food, pinball machines, disc jockey FOR THE PARTY FOR THE KIDS!

    If you don’t like the dude, fine, BUT SEE THE SHIT CLEARLY. GO FRET ABOUT SOMETHING REAL.

    The Ethics Commission is what, akin to the Apostles, where they know all. I hope Rico can fight it and show ’em up.

    The Chaits, that’s bad shit, Klenet fronting for a company that had been closed by the SEC, that’s bad shit, Gallagher taking green money from purported Vendors/FBI, that’s bad shit….


  9. mustbecrazy says:

    I was at the party in question and the one the year before and the one the year after. The party was and has always been for the Dynamites, A PAL program for mentally and/or physically disabled children and adults; other children that participated in PAL and their families attend as well. These kids have a great time. There are video games, basketball, a DJ and the kids dance all night long. Now I do agree that he should not have had political signs at the party, and I cannot say if it was an innocent error on his part or not. But I do think his intentions were good. I am not sure he should be vilified for this. There are so many other politicians in Plantation that need to be looked at. Wonder when the Feds will be knocking their doors?

  10. Broward Attorney says:

    Rico is a good man. This sounds like a whole lot of nothing.
    Why doesn’t anyone look at the County Commission, Ft Lauderdale, Tamarac, Sunrise. And don’t tell me Mike Satz. Mike Satz ain’t prosecuting any more politicians. I was shocked he went after Atkins-Grad. Broward is a cesspool and this party with Rico is a story? Please, give me a break. what a joke.

    Petrocelli asked businesses to give money to a non-profit atheletic league. Then he had the league cut him a check.

    It really doesn’t matter how he used the money. It still smells like money laundering to me. Or he is just dumb.

    Either way, he made a serious mistake according to the state Ethics Commission, which has been criticized for years for being too lenient.

  11. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    Buddy, it does matter how he spent the money for all the other politicians who were and/pr are LEGITIMATELY corrupt were getting money illicitly for their own selfish lifestyles and interests, NOT TO THROW A PARTY FOR MENTALLY CHALLENGED KIDS.

    Do you admit the politicians in Plantation except for Dr. Levy, hated Rico because he wasn’t their status quo lapdog?

  12. hmmmmmmveryinteresting says:

    I got my invite from Bob Levy, not Rico- why the hell did everything fall on Rico? ** also i have to say the cross dressing tranny Bob hired was quite amusing entertainment** paid for directly by Bob Levy!

  13. Pissed off in Plantation says:

    Throwing Rico under the bus for political gain! Disgusting. I would never wish on my worst enemy what you did to him. Trying to ruin his reputation. I wonder if the Dynomites ask about the annual party for THEM? Sad but you only think about hurting One man but not thinking about the hurt and pain you caused so many. I hope you cannot sleep at night knowing the lies you spead to help out a friend.

  14. Pissed off in Plantation says:

    Buddy were you ever invited to his parties? you should have been considering it was for mentally challenged people. Maybe that is why you are so upset, no invite I get it now you should have been the guest of honor!