Update: Political Activist Wants $500k From City





The lawsuit quietly winding its way through the Broward courthouse is a $500k example of the role of shadowy community activists in local politics.

It’s hard to find villains in this piece, but the players are:

*Vicente Thrower. Largely unknown outside of northwest Broward’s black community, he is romanced by politicians because of his reputation of influencing voters.

*Mark Bogen. A wealthy lawyer, he is also the county commissioner representing portions of northwest Broward. As of last week, he is Thrower’s attorney in a $500k suit involving Pompano Beach.

*Pompano Beach’s taxpayers. There is a chance they will end up paying the $500k that is the subject of the law suit.

*Mike Satz. The county’s chief prosecutor, his staff lost a bribery case against Thrower. That case resulted in $500k in legal fees that the city is now being asked to pay.

In April, 2010, Thrower was indicted by Satz for three counts of unlawful compensation and a fourth count of bribery. He was charged with representing developers while a member of the Northwest Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Association Advisory Board.

The advisory board recommends to the CRA whether to accept or reject building projects.

The CRA is run by the City Commission. It is funded by taxes on property in 3,242 acres of Pompano Beach, largely in the northwest section.

Thrower admitted to being paid by developers and representing them before the CRA advisory board. His defense was that he wasn’t a “public servant” under Florida law, which governed the statutes under which he was indicted.

Vincente Thrower

Vicente Thrower


The jury bought his argument. They found him not guilty on some of the charges. Satz’s office then dropped what was left of the case.

The case against Thrower collapsed. But he was left heavily in debt.

Far from being a rich man, Thrower would have a tough time paying the $500k for his defense.

A potential way around Thrower’s problem is contained in in the law. The law states that officials get their legal expenses paid when they are accused of wrongdoing relating to their public office and have not been convicted.


The $500k Law Suit


This is where it could get interesting.

The CRA filed a law suit in March to block Thrower from collecting any money from City Hall. The agency claims that the activist doesn’t qualify for having his legal expenses picked up by the public.

The law states that legal expenses can only be paid for public officials that meet two requirements, according to the CRA suit:

(1) The alleged criminal charges must have occurred during “the performance of his public duties” and

(2) The alleged criminal charges must have taken place “while serving a public purpose.”

“Thrower’s actions did not serve a public purpose but rather served his own pecuniary interests,” the CRA alleges.

The CRA also contends that it owes Trower nothing because he broke Florida’s ethics laws.

Enter Bogen.

Bogen filed a notice with the court last week that he is now Thrower’s attorney.

“I am representing Mr. Thrower for free or in legal terms, pro bono,” Bogen told Browardbeat.com.  “Actually, I have done many pro bono cases for people in my district…whether or not they are political activists.”

He said his representation of Thrower was pre-cleared by the County Attorney.

Bogen’s work for Thrower is a win-win.

He won’t alienate Pompano Beach voters who pay the CRA property tax because the agency can manage the expenses if it loses.

The CRA had a roughly $8 million budget in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2014, almost all of it from property taxes. A $500k hit is a lot, but it can be handled.

Commissioner also should win points with Thrower, who is reputed to sway votes in northwest Pompano Beach. Cozying up to an activist that has influence at the ballot box can’t hurt Bogen, who represents much Thrower’s neighborhood.

No doubt at some point the $500k figure for the fees will be challenged.  It sounds excessive to me. Many of the best lawyers in South Florida would charge a murder defendant less.  Much less.

That point aside, Bogen’s defense of Thrower is a win-win for the savvy commissioner.

It’s a potential win for Thrower, who now has Bogen on his side in court.

The only possible losers are the same folks who always seem to come out on the short end: Taxpayers.



After the above piece was posted, Vicente Thrower texted me the following comment.  It is reproduced with some editing from me:

“Buddy, what I don’t understand about your article this go around is that it doesn’t talk about how was prosecuted unjustly in that I was the first advisory board member in the state of Florida to be prosecuted under those charges!! …Four years of trying to ruin my reputation with no apology…Your article doesn’t say anything about how the mayor of Tamarac and the mayor (of) Deerfield have gotten their reimbursements…Yet (this) young African-American young man was wrongfully charged with the felony instead of just being an ethics issue. (It) cost me out-of-pocket 115,500, plus my reputation. You don’t think that I should be reimbursed and that the taxpayers should know the truth….. Why is it that I should not be reimbursed with get an apology, but everyone else should be made whole in all the cities”

I have written more than once on Browardbeat.com that it is unjust that folks spend a small fortune to defend themselves against charges that jurors find to be bogus. Mr. Thrower deserves to have reimbursement for his legal fees and expenses seriously considered.

27 Responses to “Update: Political Activist Wants $500k From City”

  1. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    I mourn the loss of Commissioner Bogan’s dignity good reputation for caring about honesty n good government n am thankful Commissioner Ryan represents me not this ethically challenged faux reformer from Palm Beach County.

  2. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Remember that conversation we had during the election cycle?

    Chickens coming home…

  3. Hmmmm says:

    I am sure the lawyers have detailed time slips for all the half million in attorney’s fees. Half a million for Roy Black, Haddad or Bogenschutz for a low end felony seems high.

  4. Sam The Sham says:

    Let’s see…. He was found not guilty because he WAS NOT a public servant but wants to be paid his legal fees because he WAS a public servant. Do I have that right?

    Pompano deserves the hit for being dumb enough to put him on their advisory board in the first place. They knew who and what he was, took the gamble and got burned.

    Win for Bogen, especially if he can get it settled quickly. The electorate has such a short memory.

  5. Mark Bogen says:

    Buddy – Just to set the record straight – I am performing a limited amount of work for free (pro bono) trying to see if I can assist in resolving this matter. Mark Bogen

  6. Talks like a politician says:

    I’ve seen plenty of politician types feeding at the public trough, gobbling up taxpayer dollars. However, this guy sounds like his name should be Hoover. He is trying to vacuum up taxpayer dollars!

  7. what bullshit says:

    A year or so ago the Broward County Commission tried to disband the Pompano CRA (before bogen was elected )

    Is it not a conflict of interest for a sitting county commissioner to be in a lawsuit against the CRA? Wouldnt the CRA be inclined to cave to Commissioner Bogen and pay this clown something in order to keep him happy? Hopefully the City and CRA will have the backbone to not take tax payer money to compensate this foolishness? I wonder what the Pompano residents in Palm Aire who are represented by Bogen think? Maybe he could send out post cards for their input like he did with Uber.


  8. Bentley says:

    I wonder how much of the money he claims to have paid out of pocket came from the money he got from those coming before the CRA where he was a voting member of the Association.

    His looks nice in the Bentley…


  9. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    #5 now Comm.Bogen is stating that he has a limited role in all this etc. Sure.. This is why these CRA’ need to be run by the county. Stories like this over an dover . Suppose to pump money back into the black community and their own kind, own kind are constantly ripping the residents in these distressed areas over and over again. The State Atty. tried putting Mr.Thrower in jail but he got off. Where’s the State Supremee court ruling about Bogen ‘ comm. seat in th e first place. Where’s the verdict. Bogen really shouldn’t be there in the first place(courts due process (where’s the verdict ..)

  10. taxpayer says:

    There is no honor among thieves – the electeds in Pompano Beach, on BCC and the appointees to CRA’s and other entities that squander tax dollars. Northwest Pompano CRA has squandered millions of dollars. Remember Floyd Johnson?

    Business as usual in Broward.

  11. Maybe! says:

    Bogen the hot head bully who makes it difficult for anyone who wants to speak at meetings.


    I really don’t find that at all.

  12. Sue O'Hara says:

    What is the legal definition of “public servant” in Florida? If a defendant meets both criteria, are legal expenses paid only if he prevails in court? $500,000 is a lot of $$$ in northwest Broward and could do a lot of good. A bigger question is why is there nearly $8 million sitting around doing nothing..when there is so much poverty, blight, unemployment and crime in that area?

  13. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Pro bono’s not the issue. A sitting County Commissioner should not be representing someone in Thrower’s position period.

    It may be politically astute, but like most things in Broward, it stinks ethically.

  14. Realist says:

    Reality check.. They charged Thrower saying that he was an elected official and was also getting money to lobby. Then he beats their case in the court of law. And now when it comes down to paying the legal fees (like they do in all cases where elected’s are found not guilty) they are claiming he is not an elected official.

    Come on! The city/States Atty/CRA can’t have it both ways.

    And as it goes for Bogen, he is an attorney, has been for 3 decades and is helping as co-counsel for a man to get back money that is rightfully his. I don’t think there is a conflict. Bogen was not on the Commission when they tried to disband the Pompano CRA.

  15. L. F. Graf Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Mr Sham has it crystal clear. To be or Not to be. You can’t be both as Prince Hamlet found out. I must confess only in New York and Florida “political” cases does anyone get a Judge or Court to find two opposites can exist. Science obviously takes a second place to politics in Broward County!

  16. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Realist, it doesn’t matter whether Bogen was on the Commission then.

    The issue is about now, about influencing the outcome because of a powerful position and about currying favor with someone who has political clout that will come in handy for future use.

  17. Realist says:

    @Charolette – Mark Bogen isn’t representing Vincente as Commissioner Bogen, he is representing Vincente as Mark Bogen Attorney at Law. Please find me ANY rule, law or code that prevents this from happening (Jeopardy music playing in the background)..

    Under your flawed thinking, Mark Bogen’s law firm should stop representing Wynmoor and Century Village because they might have an issue against the county in the future.

    I don’t know Mark Bogen for too long, however, what I do know about him is he is an ethical guy and would abstain from voting on any issue the could pose a conflict and would not insert himself into an issue that could pose a conflict. Maybe you missed the part of the article above where Bogen stated that we got clearance from the County Attorney before taking any action on behalf of Vincente.

  18. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Realist , I didn’t miss anything. Actually, if those condos do have an issue in the future with the county, they’d both have a problem.

    And getting clearance from the County Attorney is a classic Broward story. It’s one of the examples of why we had to get an IG after a long struggle.

  19. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Sorry, forgot to respond on one of your points.

    It’s the appearance of impropriety and influence, and there oughta be a law, rule and code, another classic Broward story.

    By the way, what’s your real name?

  20. Elizabeth Matramos says:

    #13 Charlotte….you are exactly correct. IT STINKS.

  21. L. F. Graf Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Miss Greenberg, a highly respected civil servant who served on a board or committee with you described you as selfless intelligent hard working for a non paid volunteer and too classy n honest for school board politics. So far your critics have been third raters according to my Google searches when they in fact actually use their own names. Sadly Browsed Co has the low politics of South Florida but none of the quaintness of the Keys the creativity of Miami or the culture or class of Palm Beach Co – look at Del ray Beach’s cultural life n the recycled dreck at any art event in Ft Lauderdale or Hollywood! As soon as my house doubles in value I’m out of this cesspool and cultural desert.

  22. Realist says:

    What am I missing here? What stinks? You guys are completely giving a pass to the CRA, the city and the SA. Those folks are the one’s who charged Vincente as an ELECTED OFFICIAL and as soon as he won his case and it was time to reimburse him for his legal fees they conveniently claim “he’s not an elected official and for that we don’t have to pay him for anything.” Why are you so quick to attack Bogen for helping and not pointing out the obvious injustice here.

    All Bogen is doing right now is bringing both parties to the table and having a talk abut what can be done. So I ask again, what stinks about this? What is the problem with both parties trying to come to an agreement and a very competent attorney help mediate.

    I have a feeling this is a possible attack or vendetta against Bogen. Ms. Greenberg was probably a big Lisa Aronson supporter and this is her way of being a sore loser.

    And again Ms. Greenberg, with your VERY FLAWED THINKING, maybe Bogen should just stop taking on any new clients because they might have an issue with Broward County in the future!! Come on, that is ridiculous! And maybe all the other Commissioners should stop practicing their professions as well because they clients might have issues with the County.

    I just don’t get what the issue is. There’s no law suit. Just 2 parties talking out differences with an attorney in the room to help.

  23. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    The ISSUE IS a county commissioner who regulates CRAs can NOT get involved in their disputes! How dumb on ethics are people in South Florida?

  24. Realist says:

    @ Count .. The County Commission does NOT regulate the Pompano CRA… What are you talking about!!

  25. Seems simple says:

    Elected officials under the law get reimbursed if they win at trial. Seems simple. Thrower is not an elected official. Does anyone think Bogen would have touched this case if he wasn’t an elected official and wasn’t currying votes in the black community?

    Bogen, please enlighten us as to why Mr. thrower, your client, deserves one dime since he is not an elected official? Don’t hold your breath.

    Interesting, I do not hear Mitch Kraft going after the school board to get his fees reimbursed.

  26. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Belated thanks, both Ms. Matramos and L.F. Graf Etc..

    Realist, I had no part in that election. Check your accusations next time.

    And if any of Bogen’s clients ended up having issues with the CC he’d have to recuse himself.

    All electeds need to be careful about their business connections; at least those who care about honesty and ethics. Too many of them get elected to try to get rich at the public’s expense.

  27. Realist says:

    @ seems simple – Mitch Kraft wasn’t charged as an elected official, he was charged as a lobbyist. Vincente Thrower was a member of the CRA ADVISORY board and was charged as an ELECTED OFFICIAL(even though he wasn’t)! Therefore, when he won his case he should have been reimbursed for the legal fees that all people charged as elected officials get when they win their respective cases. Bottom line is that there was nothing that Vincente did that was illegal and should have never been charged in the first place. It’s so funny to me that it is the same 10-15 people who have nothing better to do with their lives that comment on EVERY SINGLE story on this site.