Former Tamarac Mayor Asks Corruption Charges Be Dropped


Motions to Dismiss are routine in criminal cases.

But one filed last week in the corruption case of former Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco is unusual.  It has big political implications.

Talabisco says that corruption charges against her should be dropped because prosecutors can’t prove she received an illegal benefit from voting for a condominium project.

State Attorney Mike Satz has a lot riding on the outcome of the 10-page motion.

His recent crackdown on public corruption by elected officials is expected to be a cornerstone of his 2012  re-election campaign.  It would be a setback if the charges were dismissed.

The motion now lands in the lap of a Circuit Judge who is a former prosecutor and police officer – Cynthia Imperato.

Imperato is known in the courthouse as tough, but fair.

The motion to dismiss attempts to tear apart the argument of Satz’s prosecutors.  Prosecutors’ case is simple:

  • Corrupt developer Shawn Chait contributed to an independent electioneering communications organization that backed Talabisco’s election as mayor in 2006.
  • In return, Talabisco voted for the Chait’s condominium project after her election.


No Law Broken?

But wait a minute, said Talabisco and her lawyer, Larry Davis.

According to Talabisco’s motion:

  •  Florida Law defines an illegal benefit as something “not authorized by law,” specifically something of an “economic value.”  The contribution doesn’t fit that definition.
  • Florida Election Law also states that “expenditures made for or in furtherance of, an electioneering communications organization shall not be considered a contribution to or on behalf of any candidate.” (My emphasis.)
  •  Talabisco was required to vote on the project.  Florida Law states that the necessary precondition for not voting is the possibility of “special private gain” to her.  Court rulings have defined “special private gain” requiring abstention as a “financial interest of the public official that is directly enhanced by the vote in question.”
  • Talabisco said long before Chait’s contribution that she supported his project, according to the developers own testimony.  Thus, there is “no evidence” of any connection between Chait’s contribution and Talabisco’s vote to approve the condominiums.

I’m no lawyer, but this all sounds very interesting.  If contributions to independent committees make votes by officer holders illegal, we better build more jails.  Every politician is guilty.

I always thought the charges against Talabisco were a stretch. The case heavily depends on the testimony of Chait, who has admitted bribing public officials and will make a terrible witness.

Talabisco’s did make one big mistake during that election: She trusted County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman.

It was Lieberman who got her in this mess.

Lieberman was behind creating the independent organization. Lieberman was pulling strings everywhere during the campaign in an attempt to get Talabisco elected.

Then when investigators started sniffing around, Lieberman turned her back on her former friend, Talabisco.  Lieberman testified against Talabisco.

Satz gabbed the small fry — Talabisco, a political novice.

And he let Lieberman walk.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. On so many levels.

If this motion is granted, Talabisco may walk, too.  Which is exactly what she should do.

26 Responses to “Former Tamarac Mayor Asks Corruption Charges Be Dropped”

  1. Tamarac Resident says:

    Neglected in this story is that Lieberman also turned her back on her constituents with this develpment. Two golf courses were destroyed! She should be ashamed.

  2. Tamarac watcher says:

    This case is so flawed it should have never been brought in the first place. Even if she did everything the prosecution alleges, it is not a crime. She did not get anything for her vote. Election and 527s are legal. Contrast with the other tamarac, county or school officials, they voted and they got cars, cruises and cash. Case should be dismissed.

  3. Tamarac Talk says:

    No quid pro quo! Spatz (darn auto correct) case has always been weak. We need Beth back now as our mayor. Although I don’t agree with the project voted on, she was only one vote yes. I think the city is learning its lesson a bit except now they are using our money to buy golf courses, but that’s another fiasco.

    Dismiss these charges now!

  4. Woody72 says:

    Welcome to North Hialeah ? Talabisco, Lieberman and Ritter all need to do serious jail time. Anyone with half a brain knows this was plot was hatched out at the crime infested Democratic Club of Tamarac. The members were so heavily involved with Bruce Chait that they had become little more then co conspirators.

  5. Flawed Analysis says:

    From the beginning, this made no sense.

    As far as has been reported, Talabisco received no PERSONAL benefit except support for a campaign. She didnt get a golf cart. They didnt do improvements on her house. Nothing else was reported.

    However, if campaign contributions are sufficient to create personal benefit, then every politician will be targeted. Ignoring the 527 issue, every politician takes contributions. If politician votes for a project is it because of the money contributed to the campaign or because they support it. Governors, State Reps, State Senators would be in jail by now if campaign money was linked to votes. How will a union ever create 527s or make contributions? The pro-union politician is doing something illegal by voting for a pro-union agenda because accepted contributions or there was a 527? How does an anti-union business make contributions and not create illegality when the anti-union politician votes against a contract?

    Saying it was a conflict of interest to vote made no sense. It is a conflict if you work for the company or the vote would have some personal benefit because you are going to make money or your family will make money from the outcome of the vote/contract.

    From what was reported, someone testified that she told Talabisco it was a conflict to vote and that got prosecutors focusing on Talabisco as prime target.

    But, what does the LAW say is a conflict. Someone please explain. Seems to me if she can vote and is legally obligated to vote, there can be no crime.

    Doesnt mean there werent dirty things going on, or that the project ever made sense, or that the campaign contribution system isnt broken, but seems like a flawed analysis to call it a crime.

    If not a crime, the prosecutors wrongfully intervened in the democratic process. If voters dont like the relationship between politician and developer, is the right of the voters to remove in the next election and make noise at each meeting until then. However, to remove someone, tarnish them with criminal charges, bankrupt them with attorneys fees, is simply wrong, especially where gave immunity to people who took cash!

  6. Concerned Citizen says:

    THANK YOU – finally someone tells it like it is, or was. I have followed this from the beginning, I don’t understand how Mr. Satz, Ms. Lieberman and others can look at themselves in the mirror (although from the look of some I guess they don’t look in the mirror). Mrs. Talabisco deserves to walk away and also deserves an apology for the stress this must be causing her and her family. From what I’ve seen she holds her head high, as she should with pride, integrity and confidence. Of course, that’s easy when you haven’t done anything wrong. Thank you again for your articile.

  7. Jen says:

    So Mike Satz routinely ignores political corruption unless he can nab a small fry. And then he botches it. Is that about it?

  8. Correction says:

    To Tamarac Resident – Leiberman didn’t destroy any golf courses. Look at American Golf Club. No politician has given any developers any breaks there. But the course remains closed all the same, looking like a run down lot. The Tamarac course would look like it does today even if the housing project was not approved.

  9. Woody72 says:

    A crime was committed to get Talabisco elected in the first place, so she could then cast her vote for the Chaits. Her financial benefit came in the form of her salaried position as Tamarac’s new Mayor. The proof of her guilt is well documented by testimony and interviews giving insiders involved in her election. This is just a small piece from the Pulp.

    Talabisco’s campaign manager, Beverly Stracher, contacted Chait to meet with Talabisco at Stracher’s home. The meeting occurred on February 28, 2006, two weeks before the election

    At the meeting, Stracher asked Chait to contribute $21,000 to a 527.

    “Talabisco was aware that Beverly Stracher had instructed Shawn Chait not to directly contribute to the ‘527,’ so it did not appear as they though they coordinated their activities with candidate Beth Flansbaum-Talabisco,” wrote Pazienza. “This was done in order to hide the support the Chaits were giving to [Talabisco] and to hide the relationship between them.”

  10. TamaracTalk says:

    I don’t trust anything from the Pulp. Loved your message Woody, but after you mentioned Pulp, you lost all credibility on that one. Sorry. Like your comments otherwise.

    Flawed Analysis has it right. Great post.

  11. Tamarac watcher says:

    One other thing. Florida law required her to vote. The law says the elected official must vote and can not abstain. If in the future, an elected official could abstain from voting, by simply stating that the applicant or the opposition was going to help and support a future campaign, they’d recuse themselves from any tough vote. State attny cant win this one. No crime here.

  12. Flawed Analysis says:

    Woody is correct in a sense. That appears to be the state’s theory. Something smelled according to news reports.

    Then, there must be 3 issues. First, was there a 527 violation, did she raise funds, control the messaging, control how the contributions were made? Second, if so, is the act of being elected an “illegal benefit” resulting in a serious crime so that on the day of election the crime was complete? Third, did she have to vote on the project and was the crime complete when she voted for the project (and what if voted against it or it never came up for a vote, is there no crime)?

    As to 527, did the state charge her with 527 violation and what is normally the penalty for a 527 violation? Does the state even have to show the campaign violation was substantial enough to have resulted in her getting elected, and if so, in whose opinion? Experts? Friends? Enemies? Opponents? Voters? Which voters will testify that they voted because of the 527 message? What if cant prove anyone would not have voted for her without the 527 violation? What if one person says I voted for her because of the 527 message? Who committed the crime of concealing the contribution and how many knew (and were they charged, given immunity)?

    As to the act of getting elected, is that an “illegal benefit” because of the campaign violation? Does it have to be a 527 violation to make a serious crime or any campaign violation is good enough? We must be assuming there was nothing illegal if they had contributed directly to the campaign (and giving money to people because they haven’t been charged or they were given immunity or whatever)? Is the crime that they didnt want to show it was them contributing? What is the crime if doesnt get elected, this time?

    Or is the state upset that she got elected and then supported a (bad) project pushed by a contributor? Is that a crime all by itself? Or, is the state going to prove she traded the vote for a campaign contribution? What is the difference would it make if she supported the project and they happened to contribute? What if she loses the vote and knows she is going to lose the vote making her vote for the project meaningless?

    Just don’t understand what is going on. News reports seem to make it significant that a “friend/lawyer” told her that there was a conflict in voting. Yet, it doesn’t seem like anyone can tell us that she could have legally abstained. If cant abstain because it is not the type of personal benefit sufficient to abstain, then the law forced her to vote.

    What if the project never came to a vote? What if she didn’t show up to vote on the project? Is there no longer a crime even if assume 527 violation and she got elected? What if voted against the project? No crime?

    Seems flawed, no matter how much it may have stunk, how many were involved and knew, and took money. Maybe someone can better explain the theory.

  13. Mary J. Thompson says:

    Hope people remember all that is being said in these comments when I. Liberman decides what office she plans to run for next.

    Thank you!

  14. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    I smell a rat. First of all Mayor Talabisco whatever happens w/ your motion and if this criminal proceedings go futher MAKE sur e the jury is aware, first that your former friend there Comm.Lieberman was granted Immunity and secoudly TAKE THE STAND. Why do I feel that Mayor Talabisco was thrown under the bus by Lieberman, but wait I think Liebermans Ast. plays a big part in all this incidently she (starcher) from my understanding was also given Immunity(how convient). What I don’t understand is constantly seeing Lieberman in action w/ her knowledge of the State Statues, plus the Florida Constitution etc. in boggles my mind that the Comm. has gotten her self so wrapped up in all this. Remember Mrs.Talabisco go after both Lieberman, and Starcher. You know one would think if Lieberman and Starcher did nothing wrong then why did they stress the Immunity-please. As far as Lieberman’ sister sue the pants out of that Cosmetic center. Remember Ilene none of this is personal. Rememeber when going after them think V for Vegeance.

  15. Herman Pecker says:

    Help me out here… The Chait’s contributed to a PAC, which is 100% legal (however distasteful). There was no personal gain to Talabisco, so where’s the crime? If PAC’s were illegal every politician would be locked up.

    No crime yet, so the only possible crime would be a quid pro quo, right? But Bruce Chait, that bastion of goodness, has already testified that Talabisco was in favor of his project BEFORE he funded the PAC. Seems to me there has been no crime committed here, it looks like Chait tried to purchase “insurance” to make sure his candidate won. Certainly not a crime on her part.

    It looks like Talabisco should go back to work with an apology from Satz.

  16. Sunrise Observer says:

    “Mike Satz routinely ignores political corruption unless he can nab a small fry. And then he botches it. Is that about it?”

    That’s exactly it. The big fish are let off the hook immediately, while the small fish have to stay on a bit longer so that Satz can create the APPEARANCE of fighting corruption. It’s just a Borat-style NOT joke: “Satz Is Fighting Corruption………….NOT!!!!”

  17. Charles Bryant says:

    THis commentary of Mr. Nevins is right on the money — the whole idea of charging Talibisco with any wrong doing was bogus from the start — she was a fine mayor with the interests of the city at heart, and with an open and positive concept of progress. The evil generated by Lieberman was self serving, predictable, and totally disengenuous.

  18. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    To” Sunrise observer” a see your point. You have to go after the petty stuff(the golf cart-Comm.Ritter-)to get the bigger fish. I think that Comm.Ritter is being used as a pawn someways to go after the main course.I still respect Att.satz is postion and I like Att.Donnelly very much. To Earl Rynerson I came clos ebut no cigar in getting your gay ass arrested- Just don’t CHEAT this time around. Mayor Seiler bait him, trap him, and beat his gray, gay ,ass…..

  19. NoseBleedSeats says:

    Same story, different page! Lieberman/Stracher in action again! Lieberman concocked this whole sceme and had her henchwoman, Stracher, carry it out. Talabisco is a victim, not a criminal. Lieberman probably had Talabisco convinced she would make her the next County Commissioner. Stracher would manage it and work for Talabisco. If Talabisco is guilty of anything it is being betrayed by her friends, Lieberman, Stracher, Ritter, Udine, etc… all for what? The Money and the funny thing is the one facing the charges (Talabisco) is the only one who didn’t get paid.

  20. Woody72 says:

    Nosebleedseats, victims who attend illegal secret meetings with Stracher are often called coconspirators. Yes Lieberman and Stacher are the bigger criminals here. But Talabisco is still a criminal. ( Just smaller.)

  21. Jacked Up says:

    Woody72 says: crawl back under your legal rock. The meetings Talabisco had were not illegal. You don’t know the law or what you’re commenting on… Sorry you’re still pissed about the golf courses, lifes too short – get over it!

  22. observer says:

    The case against Talibisco should be dismissed. No financial gain, nothing illegal. But what about the other cases. Kraft(s)?, Patte Adkins Grad? those cases they got money and voted on issue. Seems like a big difference.

  23. No Comment? says:


    “Talabisco’s did make one big mistake during that election: She trusted County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman.

    It was Lieberman who got her in this mess.

    Lieberman was behind creating the independent organization. Lieberman was pulling strings everywhere during the campaign in an attempt to get Talabisco elected.

    Then when investigators started sniffing around, Lieberman turned her back on her former friend, Talabisco. Lieberman testified against Talabisco.”

    We know she reads the blog. She posted a denial and comments to another story about allegations and opinion about threats.

    But no comment here disputing Buddy’s opinion? Why not?

  24. Concerned Citizen says:

    Before Ilene Lieberman could make a comment about the truth (re Buddy’s opinion)she has to understand what that means. I truly do not know how she puts up with herself on a day to day basis. Mr. Satz & Company you DON’T have my vote.

  25. Herman Pecker says:

    Lieberman is termed out at the county, so did she throw Talabiso over the side in order to get her out of the way so Ilene has a landing spot in running for Tamarac mayor? If that is even remotely a possibility, perhaps her testimony should be looked at very closely. Wouldn’t be the first time she put her own interests first.

  26. Easy Eddie Portner says:

    Lieberman has no future in Tamarac, ask me, I’d know! The voter’s love Talabisco and handed me my butt when I ran against her. Even with my daughters help and support Lieberman has burned too many bridges in Tamarac, take it from a guy who knows! Then again my daughter may stab Lieberman in the back the same way she stabbed me! Well if she does she learned at the knee of the master.