Has Rico Committed A R.I.C.O.?




Browardbeat.Com Exclusive. Read It Here First

Plantation City Commissioner Rico Petrocelli told a state investigator last year that he had businesses donate money to the city athletics program and then took the money for his own use.

Petrocelli’s admission, recorded by the investigator, is at the heart of a state ethics complaint against him. 

Browardbeat.com obtained a copy of the recording.
Petrocelli who is running for re-election told the investigator that he had firms donate money to the Plantation Athletic League. 

PAL then cut a check to Petrocelli for the money.

The money was used for Petrocelli parties, which promoted his political career.

“Its not a PAL event, Petrocelli told the agent from the state Office of Inspector General in the recording.

PAL is the non-profit, city-sponsored organization that operates youth athletics on Plantation-owned fields.

He explained to the agent how the pass through scheme worked:

“The checks were made out to PALI get a check.  I turned it in to the (PAL) treasurer.  The treasurer than writes a check (to me)You have to write a check to PAL.  Then it goes into my account, Petrocelli said. 

The ethics complaint alleges Petrocelli did not report the pass-through money as required by the state gift disclosure law.

Attached to the complaint are copies of checks for the Petrocelli holiday party.  There are four checks made out to Petrocelli from PAL for $1,408.37 another $1,395 to the party’s DJ and a food vendor.

But perhaps the most damaging evidence is Petrocelli’s own words. They were recorded by the state agent on August 1, 2008 at 10:23 a.m. in a Plantation motel.

Ironically, Petrocelli was talking to the agent because of a complaint he filed. 

Petrocelli’s complaint was against Pat Roberts, a Division of Alcoholic Beverage & Tobacco major.  He accused Roberts of misusing his state position to investigate Petrocelli’s involvement with PAL.

The complaint was handled by the Office of Inspector General.

Roberts, a PAL director, has been complaining for a year about Petrocelli’s use of the organization‘s money.  He also criticized what he called the fast-and-loose way the organization handles parents’ money.

The state found no evidence that Roberts misused his position.

But it uncovered the pass through scheme.

Petrocelli has since resigned from the PAL board.

PAL owes it to the public to clean up their act.  They seem more interested in dumping Roberts from the board than taking responsibility for their casual handling of money.

Petrocelli is now running for re-election.

Petrocelli owes it to the public to come clean.  Or else voters should end his political career in the March election.

18 Responses to “Has Rico Committed A R.I.C.O.?”

  1. Plantation Resident says:

    Why don’t you write who is running against this guy?

    FROM BUDDY: His name is Peter S. Tingom, former principal of Plantation High School.

  2. Get Rid of Rico says:

    Pat Roberts should be praised all over Plantation for exposing the wrongdoing of PAL and most particularly RICO. I hope the FBI is watching, along with the state. I don’t expect the Plantation Police will do anything because they are political pussys.

  3. Shakepeare says:

    Pat Roberts 30 year law enforcement officer, 8 years political appointee of Diane Veltri Bendekovic city council person who wants to be Mayor< hates Petrocelli . Pat Roberts files ethics complaint and then violates confidentiality clause and gos to Buddy .
    Ask his bosses why after investigation he was not promoted to Major. Ask him why he must retire in June . Check what Mayor he is working for in July.
    ” The Lady doth protest too much, methinks” ! Buddy dig deeper !!!

    FROM BUDDY: The issue is not Pat Roberts. The issue is City Commissioner Rico Petrocelli and the way he handled PAL money. I have the information recorded right from Petrocelli’s own mouth.
    He had firms donate money to PAL. Then he took that money for his own use. No one would say that is the right way to handle money and it may violate Florida law. End of story.

  4. Watchful says:

    I love how people can “justify” illegal actions. “Shakepeare” needs to get a grip and learn some more quotes. Maybe some about honesty and integrity.

  5. A concerned PAL parent says:

    Thank you, Buddy, for probing deeper into this case. You have a fine history of political reporting in Broward county and I do beleive you are only interested in publishing the facts. People need to dig deeper than “who is supporting whom” and take a serious look at Rico’s history in Plantation. How many of us have encountered him at the annual 4th of July celebration (or other public event) and have him shake our hand and slip us his business card and say “If you ever get stopped by the Plantation police show them this?” (He was witnessed doing this again as recently as last week with a Boy Scout troop outside of City Hall!) Influence peddling, while the least of his transgressions, says a lot about the man’s character. As for Pat Roberts, it is not his reputation or character that should be in question here, as he only brought the facts to light (whether he “likes or dislikes Rico” or is friendly with Diane Veltri-Bendekovic is besides the point), but I will say that coaches and parents who know him thru PAL will tell you that he is one of the most ethical and upstanding gentlemen on the fields. He is truly concerned about the kids, as are the majority of the volunteers, and is one of the few to stick his neck on the line to get to the bottom of PAL’s sloppy management of it’s finances. When you see how he and others are being slandered and attacked for bringing these issues to light, it illustrates why others have backed off or refused to get involved in any bringing forth their concerns about PAL. I sincerely hope apathy does not keep the voters away on March 10…we all need to send a message that we value INTEGRITY in Plantation.

  6. old planatation says:

    go the next step and show how rico along with coach bill B use P.A.L E-mail list of parents who sign up the chidren to play sports for rico’s election get out the message only this year Jim Davis will also have the list thanks to rico. Is’nt it time to either the state or Plantation voters get rid of this embarrassmaent.

  7. Another resident says:

    As many times as I have spoken to Rico, I have never had him try to “slip me a business card”. nor have I ever had him tell me to use his name if I have a problem with the police.

    Furthermore you do have to consider who hates who, because there is no love lost between Bendekovic and Petrocelli and anyone who thinks Bendekovic is a “saint” as well as Armstrong, her cohort, is a “saint” are in denial.

    Armstrong through the years has pulled more shenanigans then anything you are trying to imply on Rico. How come Mr. Nevins never put this much investigation into what really caused the Towne Mall to burn down and who just happened to be the incompetent contractor, that managed to get building inspectors to look the other direction?

    Has it also not occurred to anyone that PAL has several directors and commissioners that all have to answer to each other as to how the funds are spent? It seems to me if Rico was doing something wrong, then in essence the whole board was doing something wrong.

    It also seems that every article I have read about this, seems to leave out that the PAL did hire a firm to audit the books and the result was no wrong doing found.

  8. OMGosh!!! says:

    It looks like Plantation has become corrupt, what a shame. They were one of the few Cities in Broward County that was half-way decent. It’s not right. Who in the PAL organization was responsible for writing the checks back to Rico, that’s a good question? That person should have known better as well.

  9. Want to Know More says:

    Who was the treasurer that signed the checks for Rico? How come this is not being investigated?

  10. Disgusted In Plantation says:

    I would like to say thank you to Pat Roberts for having the guts to finally bring to light something that has been going on for along time with Rico and pal. dIG DEEPER THERE IS MORE THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR ALONG TIME!! You should also look into Rico’s dealings while he has been a councilman, you’re sure to find wrong doings. The PAL Board should resign shame on all of them, this occurred on their watch and it’s been going on there is plenty of money missing from PAL that the Public should learn about. And shame on the Police Department for allowing Rico to go on ride alongs and to get involved the way he does with them while they are investigating him. This is just the tip of th iceberg keep digging. Finally I think it’s appalling that Rico used PAL mailing list to send to voters, that’s how he got elected. Explain to all of us how a truck driver can run a City?

  11. Max Pulcini says:

    I believe in term limits for all politicians. They should all be replaced after 2 terms.

    As far as Rico and PAL are concerned, I had called him with a complaint that PAL administration was not following proper procedures. I expected some assistance, or at least interest, from my elected official. His response to me was that I could move to another city if I had a problem with PAL.

    I for one will support Tingom. Rico has become a true politician. He’s not what Plantation needs.

  12. old planatation says:

    better question is not who wrote checks back to Rico from P.A.L..
    The real question is what lobbyist were leaned on to cover the cost of the party in the first place.
    and what votes came before the council that Rico voted on that were represented by the same lobbyist. remember the party was a joint party that included Bob Levy.
    What was his role? no wonder Jerry fadgen was trying to get his freind to run agaist Bob. maybe Jerry actions means he knows how dirty his fellow council members are.

  13. Long time soccer coach with Pat Roberts says:

    I have coached PAL recreational soccer as an assistant coach to Pat Roberts for 8 years. I only have the highest praise for the man. During tmy 8 seasons coaching with Pat I only witnessed integrity, kindness, motivational skills for the kids and positive reinforcement. I think it would be a big mistake for him to be removed from PAL sports. Our children would miss a good coach and an even better person.

  14. A concerned Pal parent says:

    In response to what “another resident” said:

    You are correct , the entire PAL Executive Board is responsible and should have resigned, there was plenty of culpability on behalf of all involved…. Many things have been overlooked for years. As for the audit, please don’t fall for the line that there was “no wrong doing”. This was NOT a complete forensic audit and it did not dig deeply. It DID find 14 red flags and PAL was advised to clean up it’s practices. At a potential cost of upwards of $25,000, we will never see a complete audit if the books.
    As for the comments about the mayor and others, it misses the point. No elected official is liked by all or makes decisions that we all agree with. This is not a witch hunt against Rico solely by people who support the mayor , but an attempt to bring to light his unethical behavior and the need for more transparency within PAL. We all need to be more involved, apathy and indifference gets us to this place. VOTE

  15. Watchful says:

    In response to Old Plantation’s note…
    I don’t think Jim Davis will use the email list that Rico has. He already faced ethics charges for his past work on P.A.I.D.(for which the state dropped). I don’t think he would want to be affiliated with another scandal.
    Been there done that!

  16. Plantation Truth says:

    As much as I believe in transparancy in city goverment, I think everyone needs to step back and take a deep breath.
    Without taking sides, if you think that Rico is the only “corrupt” council person on the dias, you need to pay more attention to this citys council meetings.
    Take for example…..the city is in neogtiations to buy the parking lot near the Broward Mall to expand Pine Island Park for approx. $3.2 mil….after all is said and done, they pay back to Sun Trust bank will be $6.4 mil approx. Now you tell me…in these DIRE economic times…why are we going to buy a parking lot to expand a park….ohhh…thats right…because the city has pending grants for an Ampitheater there. Also the city has DEEP links to Sun Trust Bank and the Broward Mall. Crime is increasing, homes are being foreclosed and OUR city is going to spend that type of $ on that….come on people. Everyone need to be involved…FULLY investigate all the candidates!!!! You might be surprised!

  17. plantation's past says:

    these blogs are great. what and easy way to take cheap shots tell some lies and sling mud. in the old days we had Betty Cobb.

  18. old planatation says:

    these blogs are great. what a way to take cheap shots, tell some lies and sling mud. in the old days we just had Betty Cobb