(5/12/2011) Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Broward County’s public corruption track record took another nose-dive Tuesday, with the conviction of Steve Gonot, a former Deerfield Beach Commissioner, on charges that he stole from his campaign account and falsified his treasurer’s reports.
Also in Deerfield Beach, now-suspended Commissioner Sylvia Poitier, plead not guilty at her first appearance before a Broward circuit judge on Tuesday on charges of falsifying documents relating to potential conflicts of interest.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Politics Blog, jurors took less than an hour to convict Gonot of felony grand theft and official misconduct charges, surrounding a $5,135 campaign check written to his friend Joe DiPrimo, allegedly for supplies and equipment for the campaign. The prosecution successfully argued that this was in fact money Gonot took out to support himself after his then-estranged wife cleaned out a joint bank account.
Although Broward Circuit Judge Barbara McCarthy allowed Gonot to remain free on bond, he was required to surrender his passport. Facing a potential 10 years total of prison time, the Judge set sentencing for June 20 for the 54 year-old former commissioner, who served on the Deerfield Beach City Commission from 2001-2008.
Sylvia Poitier is alleged by Broward prosecutors to have failed to disclose her brother’s loaning over $40,000 to the Westside Deerfield Businessmen Association, despite her abstaining from commission votes regarding the WDBA (although she did vote to award grant money to the group, which did not pass). Poitier allegedly did file conflict-of-interest forms relating to four votes pertaining to the WDBA, but failed to mention her brother’s loan as a source of a potential conflict of interest.
The City of Deerfield Beach has scheduled a special election on July 19th to fill Poitier's seat on the Commission for the remainder of her term, which would expire in March 2015.
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