Satz Getting A Raw Deal On Corruption


State Attorney Mike Satz is getting a bad rap.

Satz does fight some public corruption recently, but gets very little appreciation for his work.

Part of the reason is that Satz is very low key.  He seldom holds news conferences to boast about his prosecutions.

So the FBI, with their undercover stings and their media machine, gets most of the publicity.

Did you know that Satz prosecuted four Broward public officials in the past two years who ended up getting lengthy prison sentences?  Collectively they stole $4.6 million in public money.

Public officials are those who work for government, like city managers or building inspectors. 

If Satz has a weakness, it is his preceived unwillingness to go after elected officials.  He really hasn’t locked up any big name elected County Commissioner or School Board member recently and those governments are filled with corruption.  

He did end the career of three city elected officials in the last two years, but they got minor sentences.  

It must be remembered that juries convict and judges sentence.  Satz has no final say in either.

Remember also that the FBI has the money and resources to run lengthy sting operations, catching officials in the act of wrongdoing.

The string that caught suspended School Board member Bev Gallagher and County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion went on for more than three years and involved agents brought into Broward from other parts of the county.

Satz’s office hardly has enough money to put prosecutors in court every day.  So Satz’s cases are largely developed by recreating historical events through documents and testimony.

Lacking a dramatic video of a sting, historical cases are much harder to successfully prosecute.

Still, Satz’s record is not that bad:

  • Former Davie Town Manager Chris Kovanes, convicted in October 2009 of money laundering, an organized scheme to defraud and theft from the Town of Davie in excess of $400,000.  Sentenced to 12 years in prison.
  • Former Hollywood City Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom, convicted in September 2007 for two counts of official misconduct for falsifying voting conflict forms to disguise his interest in businesses he lobbied for.  Sentenced to 60 days in jail.  Appeal pending.
  • Former Parkland Mayor Robert Marks, pleaded guilty in November 2007 to perjury.  Sentenced to one year probation.
  • Former Coconut Creek City Commissioner Robert Dearing, pleaded no contest October 2008 to one count of falsifying records for contending he was a resident of Coconut Creek while living in Coral Springs.  Ordered to pay Coconut Creek $10,989.
  • Former Florida Department of Children & Families Services Supervisor Violet Jones, convicted in September 2008 and sentenced to 17 years in prison.  She stole more than $1.5 million from DCF.
  • Former Work Force One Supervisor Brenda Felder, pleaded guilty in August 2008 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.  She stole $2.4 million from a Work Force One agency.
  • Former Broward Schools Electrical Supervisor Michael Grubbs, convicted in August 2008 and sentenced to nine years in prison.  He stole $271,694 worth of copper from the school system.

Currently pending are a number of cases:


  • Eggelletion is charged with accepting $3,200 from a developer to pay his golf club membership.
  • Former Deerfield Beach Mayor Al Capellini is charged with unlawful compensation for voting on a project in which he had a business interest.
  • Former Deerfield Beach Commissioner Stephen Gonot charged with official misconduct, grand theft and falsifying records for illegally taking more than $5,000 from his campaign and using it for personal expenses.
  • Former Lauderhill Building Inspector Vito DiBenedetto, charged with  bribery, extortion and unlawful compensation for taking $20,000 in bribes.
  • Former Florida Commissioner on Humand Relations and former Broward Sheriff’s candidate Shahrukh “Shak Dhanji is charged with falsifying records, campaign violations and official misconduct. He is a fugitive.

11 Responses to “Satz Getting A Raw Deal On Corruption”

  1. Blue Man Scoop says:

    Wasserstrum needs to man up and take his 60 measley days in jail for his corrupt scheme.

  2. j says:

    your kidding right?

  3. Scott Cowan and More says:

    Buddy, didn’t Satz prosecute Scott Cowan?

    What a prosecutor should never do is bring a case he doesn’t have enough evidence to win. That’s just bad public policy and a misuse of the criminal justice system. Bringing a weak case against a public official especially smacks of a State Attorney engaging in political grandstanding.

    Doing that ends badly for all involved and that’s not even mentioning the cost to a potentially innocent person to defend themselves against what amounts to trumped up criminal charges.

    Criminal cases need to be clear and convincing if they are going to be brought. Period. That should apply to charging any person with a crime, including a public official.

    Cases of public corruption with sufficient evidence to convict should be always be prosecuted. Satz has done that. These are very serious matters that cannot be taken so lightly as some on this blog have done.

    To be sure, Satz has no history of failing to prosecute where the evidence was sufficient to bring a corruption case. Nobody can even mention an example of that kind.

    Therefore the man IS doing his job and all this stuff to the contrary is nonsense.

  4. Satz Says says:

    The JAAblogs have made a punching bag out of Satz. That’s all defense attorneys upset with the prosecutors. If Satz can make a case against a politician he will do so and nobody has proven he is scared of them or plays favorites. All the political gadflies are constantly filing complaints at Satz’s office and then complain when he “doesn’t do anything.” Most of the cases are bullshit nitpicking politics that can’t be proved to a jury.

  5. Another Lawyer says:

    I am defending one of those mentioned above. Anyone that accuses the State Attorneys Office of not prosecuting alleged corruption can please explain that to my client.

  6. prosecuting who? says:

    How many of those names are connected to Barbara Miller, Neil Stirling, Ron Book and the rest of the Broward County establishment? There’s your answer.

    The Stacy Ritter airport stuff and Eggelletion garbage contracts were absolute slam dunk cases that were given a free pass. Read the closeout memos on those and decide if he’s tough on corruption.

    Give me a break.

    And don’t forget Ken Jenne got a free pass even though the feds convicted, and Satz ignored repeated grand jury reports outlining what we all now know is rampant corruption in the Broward Schools building department.

    He goes after only what is forced on him by the press and public, and even that’s a stretch.

  7. You've got Jaab says:

    Jaab responded to this article on the Jaab site. You should read it.

  8. Mark These Words says:

    My dad used to have a saying. Son he said, he’d always call me son, there’s a world of difference between chicken salad and chicken shit. The smart man knows the difference without it having to be explained to him.

    Words to live by, which leads me to this point. Mark these words.

    You may want to think that the lobbyists you mention in the post above have violated crimes. You may think that because you don’t like the outcome. You may think it because you don’t like lobbyists. You may think it because you don’t like them. All of that is chicken shit.

    The chicken salad comes if there’s an actual CRIME that THEY committed. And there my friends, I sadly report you are looking at a very empty sandwich.

    If they had actually committed any crimes, they’d be arrested by now. It is a dead end and understandably so. They are too smart to violate the law, unlike some who we elected to office.

  9. gonzo says:

    Plain and simple, a credible attorney needs to step up to the plate and run against the current do-nothing state attorney. eggelletion has been known about for years, gallagher and the blood bank has been around for years, the awarding of contracts at the school board to mostly 2 firms with predicted and forecasted results ahead of rfps being issued has been known about for years, the sunrise commission in general ……. i mean, come on, this guy has buried his head in the sand for ever…and who is his political consultant, robin from badman neil sterling who runs all the campaigns of people that need to be investigated..shit, the rothstein stuff, everybody and their sister knew he couldn’t possibly be spending the money he was without something being SERIOUSLY wrong….he only investigated wasserstrom after the press broke the sludge deals, he only investigated capalleni after the press broke it, he ignored yours and others articles on gallagher and the blood bank for years, oh by the way, who ran gallagher’s campaign, robin from badman sterling and robin fame…he is a horror, an embarassment and needs to be voted out..christ, all of the sunrise issues that have floated around for years, could occupy his whole staff around the clock 24/7….he and the school board need to be thrown out of office, shit, not by the citizens via vote, but by the governor in an emergency intervention of gubanatorial authoritative emergency powers….change his last name from satz to “stand in the way”.

  10. Law firm man says:

    It is obvious that the great majority of those posting comments know nothing about the law and about criminal prosecutions. Satz has to develop evidence that will convince a jury that the wrongdoing alleged is not just political highjinks, errors in bookkeeping or innocent mistakes. Just because something is morally or ethically wrong does not mean it is a crime. Juries are highly unpredictable and are especially reluctant to destroy lives or lock someone in jail for what appears to be politics as ususal. Satz is also hampered by the laws of Florida, which are weak when it comes to white collar crimes.
    Jenne was convicted of mail and income tax fraud, which are catchall federal crimes that Satz doesn’t have at his disposal. Knowing many prosecutors and the financial limitations they endure, Satz does a credible job with the limited resources he has.

  11. Schmuley says:

    Everyone involved in the criminal justice system in Broward knows that Satz prosecutes EVERY alleged crime referred to the SA’s office by law enforcement, regardless of whether there are witnesses or other evidence to support the charges. For example, if they find one molecule of cocaine residue, they prosecute. In these cases, which are the vast majority, the line prosecutors have no discretion not to charge, or to drop charges when it turns out there is not sufficient evidence, or there was an illegal search. Satz’s prosecution policy means, in practical terms, prosecuting people who are minorities and poor, and can’t afford private defense attorneys, and overcrowding our jails with nonviolent offenders. It also results in Satz having one of lowest conviction rates in Florida because in many cases, the prosecutions do not result in convictions. However, in cases of alleged public corruption, all of a sudden Satz worries about whether there is sufficient evidence to convict and exercises discretion not to prosecute. It’s a double standard and it’s rampant hypocrisy.