Goodbye Ken Jenne
Embattled Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne is resigning from office.
Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne -- at one time the county's most powerful politician -- has agreed to resign and plead guilty to federal corruption charges involving tens of thousands of dollars he allegedly received from sheriff's office contractors and employees, sources said Tuesday.Another South Florida politician resigning in disgrace and heading off to eventual prison. In each case, the feds brought the charges leading to these men's downfall. Our local prosecutors are worthless when it comes to corruption cases.
After months of personal anguish, Jenne decided Monday to cut the plea deal on tax evasion and other charges to limit his prison time because he also was staring at an imminent grand jury indictment on more serious fraud and money-laundering offenses, sources said.
The plea agreement means Jenne, who earned $169,800 a year as sheriff, will surrender to authorities to face tax-evasion related charges as early as Wednesday. He will likely serve some prison time -- possibly between one and two years -- and have to pay back taxes and fines to the Internal Revenue Service, sources said.
Jenne, a lawyer who spent most of his life in public service, also will likely lose his Florida Bar license and sheriff's pension. The pension is estimated to be about $125,000 a year. His conviction ends the dynamic career of a Democratic politician who had formidable clout from Fort Lauderdale to Tallahassee.
In the plea, Jenne is expected to admit to abusing the public trust, sources said, a concession that will hurt his post-conviction effort to save his pension.
Indeed, it was Gov. Lawton Chiles who appointed the former state senator as Broward sheriff in 1998, drawing snickers from many who questioned his lack of experience in law enforcement. But Jenne's ambition bolstered the agency, which nearly doubled in size -- to a $696 million budget with 6,300 employees and 14 cities under its control.
Yet as Jenne's political profile spread across Broward -- with three reelection victories as sheriff -- his financial ambitions would lead to his eventual downfall. Jenne's career began to unravel in April 2005. Then-Gov. Jeb Bush ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the sheriff after The Miami Herald revealed he had concealed the names of businesses that paid him tens of thousands of dollars for his consulting services.
The probe led to a federal grand jury case that uncovered Jenne's acceptance of more than $100,000 in unreported payments from BSO contractors who do business with his agency as well as from his two secretaries.
Jenne's lawyers and the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the plea agreement, which was brokered in part by a former top federal prosecutor, Thomas Scott, who joined the sheriff's defense team at no expense last week.
Who is next, West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel or Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter? Maybe it will be someone else. Some how I don't think we're done with these corruption cases.
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