Former Political Insider Barry Chapnick Dies


Barry Chapnick, who was one of the Broward political scene’s biggest players before his S & L failed in the late 1980s, died Wednesday. 


He was 62 and lived in Davie.

Chapnick was the chairman of Commonwealth Savings and Loan of Florida, a Broward-based institution.

For a half dozen years in the 1980s, Commonwealth and Chapnick were not only huge campaign contributors, but also employed some leading local politicians.

Former County Commissioners Scott Cowan and Howard Forman, now clerk of the courts, were vice presidents of the S & L.  Former state Rep. Jack Tobin, a Margate Democrat who is now a lobbyist, was a senior vice president. 

Chapnick didn’t confine his politics to Broward. 

According to Sun-Sentinel articles from the era, he hosted dinners for Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and for former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart’s presidential campaign. 

Chapnick depended on Cowan, Tobin and Forman for advice on local campaigns. Access to Chapnick’s cash, which Cowan, Tobin and Forman handed out to political allies, cemented their political power.  

Cowan received $5,000 in one day from Chapnick’s companies for the 1988 County Commission campaign of Lori Parrish, who is now property appraiser, said the Sun-Sentinel.

The late-County Commissioner Gerald Thompson got $4,500.  Former Public Defender Alan Schreiber got $2,000.

And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Chapnick also gave generously to charities, handing the Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale $250,000 to help it get built.

But at the same time Chapnick was giving away thousands, the S & L was losing millions. 

Eventually, Commonwealth collapsed. 

Chapnick’s brother and the bank’s treasurer, Jason Chapnick, pleaded guilty to his role in concealing a $33 million commodities trading loss which helped sink the S & L.

Barry Chapnick was never charged with wrongdoing.  A lawyer, he remained a member of the Florida Bar until his death and had no disciplinary actions against him.

In the early 2000s, Chapnick was back in the news again for pulling political strings.

Chapnick was the director of Cambridge Medical which received $1 million from the North Broward Hospital District to open and operate medical clinics in North Broward.

There was nothing illegal about asking for hospital district money and getting it.

“The no-bid deal had a strong backer: then-commissioner Amadeo “Trinchi” Trinchitella, the political leader of Century Village, which was Cambridge’s landlord. Also, the board’s then-chairwoman, Ana Gardiner, was a supporter of doctors who wanted to manage the Margate clinic for Cambridge,according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The clinics proved unsuccessful.  The Sun-Sentinel noted that Chapnick had no medical experience.

Services for Chapnick were held Thursday.


2 Responses to “Former Political Insider Barry Chapnick Dies”

  1. A Friend says:

    My heart goes out to Barry’s family. He was a good man who played by the rules. He will be missed.

  2. Joel Silverman DO FACP says:

    He was the consummate low life. Bilked old people out of their money, stole money ‘legally’ putting county funds in his pockets, ripped off employees that he wouldn’t pay. Let his brother be the patsy fall guy for him, stating that he couldn’t go to jail because he had a child. There is a special place in hell for slime like this. Sorry for his kid. What a legacy to leave.