The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is former Palm Beach County Commissioner Tony Masilotti. He gets the award for the following.
WEST PALM BEACH — Former Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Tony Masilotti faces up to five years in prison and forfeiture of $9.5'million in cash and real estate for his leading role in a land deal conspiracy that stretched from 2000 to this past June, federal prosecutors said Monday.Read the rest of the Post article if you want all the sordid details. Tony may well end up with company in prison. They deserve whatever sentences are handed down.
Masilotti, who in a sorrowful resignation letter said he will plead guilty, is expected to surrender Friday at the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, where he will appear for the first time before a judge. Still to be determined: when Masilotti formally will plead guilty and when he'll be dispatched to prison.
The grand jury investigation of Tony Masilotti was triggered by a series of stories in The Palm Beach Post this year documenting how the county commission chairman's family secretly profited from land deals that Masilotti had pushed.
The Post's investigation, launched in January, involved the review of thousands of documents from 16 government agencies in four counties in Florida and Illinois as well as dozens of interviews. It began with records of Masilotti's recent divorce, which included financial statements and a document index that identified marital property holdings in the name of an accountant who represented a secret land trust. The trust, it turned out, was involved in a tangled series of transactions that generated a $1.3 million profit for the family.
A federal grand jury charged the 50-year-old insurance broker with conspiracy to violate the federal "honest services" statute, a law that allows prosecutors to charge public officials with corruption even if there was no direct bribe to secure an official act. Public officials - and those caught providing them with financial inducements - can be charged even if there was no specific vote involved.
"As an elected official, former Commissioner Masilotti was legally and ethically required to represent the best interests of his constituents and to perform his duties free from fraud and self-dealing," U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said at a news conference Monday. "Masilotti repeatedly breached that duty and misused his power and his office for personal gain."
Acosta hinted that more defendants could be charged in the case but declined to elaborate. The grand jury's charging document points to a group of prominent lawyers and developers allegedly involved in the series of tainted land deals that made Masilotti millions.
None of them has been charged. The grand jury identified them by their initials but provided ample information in the charging document to clearly identify them.
For using his public office to enrich himself, Tony Masilotti is today's Knucklehead of the Day.
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