Third Florida Mayor Arrested for Corruption This Month


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Does anyone remember a couple of goofy-looking Caucasian officials from south Florida who took a sizable sum in bribes?

Well, the feds nabbed a third. Reuters got the initial scoop last night. Mayor Steven Bateman of the town of Homestead is the third in the Miami area to be arrested and charged with corruption. The official charges filed: "two felony counts of unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior," in addition to two misdemeanor violations of "the Miami-Dade Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance for exploitation of an official position, acquiring a financial interest, and unregistered lobbying."

A Miami local CBS affiliate reported that Bateman was allowed to post a $21,500 bond with his wife's money and some of her property pledged as collateral; he was released after 7 p.m. and his wife zipped him off in a Mercedes. His attorney, Ben Kuehne, told CBS that "Mayor Bateman looks forward to holding his head up high to continuing to serve his community and to obtain his ultimate vindication."

At a press conference held by the city of Homestead, vice mayor John Burgess said "Because of the hard work of the state attorney and the Ethics Commission, that individual [former mayor Bateman] has been removed from our government... I'm proud to be a part of this govenrment and I assure you this council will safeguard the integrity of our government and of all the citizens of Homestead."

At that same press conference, councilwoman Judy Waldman said that she believed there was "much more, and that the state attorney should keep investigating... My strong message [is against] people who use public office to make money... From elected officials, corruption in government will not be tolerated in the city of Homestead."

Bateman was arrested in connection to a "secret consulting gig" with the Community Health of South Florida and several construction projects, and his website lists him as "owner and President of Two Brothers Construction, Inc." You know, the kind of president with an office used as a storage closet? Sounds nothing at all like an episode of The Sopranos.

One more interesting note: before his arrest, police and state attorneys arrived at Bateman's house only to have him refuse to come out. The police sat around for nearly a half hour before Bateman's wife came home and opened the door, at which point police took him into custody. Kuehne told the reporters that the former mayor "simply wanted to take a shower" before being hauled off to jail, but what was he really doing?

[Image via a CBS 4 report on the subject matter]