May 21, 2005
Corruption and Obstruction in Margaritaville
The former Monroe (FL) County Attorney, James Herrick, was added to a superseding indictment for alleged obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct a federal grand jury, and two counts of witness tampering in connection with concealing an alleged $29,000 kickback paid to former Monroe County Commissioner and Mayor Jack London. The payment was related to approval of a development in the Florida Keys ("Margaritaville") called Halls Resort (it's now a Hampton Inn). According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida (here):
[T]he payment to London was made by a consultant, identified as “R.H.,” who had been hired by a real estate developer, identified as “M.R.,” to assist “M.R.” with obtaining building permits from the BOCC for the Halls Resort project. According to the Superseding Indictment, London used the $29,000 payment to satisfy an outstanding lien against a residential property London owned in Cork, Ireland. Hendrick allegedly agreed to participate in this kick-back scheme, and used his position as County Attorney to place the Halls Resort project on the BOCC agenda.
In addition, the Superseding Indictment alleges that, beginning in July 2003, and continuing into March 2004, Hendrick acted as a conduit between John “Jack” London and “R.H.” and that he subsequently devised a false explanation to legitimize “R.H.’s” $29,000 payment to London. Hendrick did so knowing that the false information would be conveyed to a federal grand jury.
Houston, Cleveland, Hoboken, and now Margaritaville -- this is certainly worse than stepping on a pop-top. Is no place safe from corruption these days, Jimmy? (ph)
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