By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
Most of Cor's fees have been paid by grants, both from the state and the county. And the grants were written by none other than Rubin, who has also received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Southwest Ranches, along with an office and assistant. He is identified on his town voice-mail as "Richard Rubin Inc."
Wasserman-Rubin, meanwhile, has helped to push some of the grants penned by her husband through the County Commission and voted for each one of them. Again, she doesn't believe those votes constitute a conflict of interest because all the grants are first vetted by the Land Preservation Advisory Board. She also points out that Rubin doesn't get bonuses based on commission approval of the grants.
That is true. Rubin's contract was amended last fall to forbid such bonuses. But until then, he received them. And further, Southwest Ranches administrator Canada justifies Rubin's big paychecks by pointing to the grant writer's success at the county and state levels.
During a phone conversation, Wasserman-Rubin said the fact that her husband writes the grants has nothing to do with her voting for them. "I support each and every grant, no matter what it is, if it's in my district," she asserted. "It's not my fault my husband is one heck of a grant writer."
Then she became very emotional. "I'm certainly not getting rich from any of this," she said. "I am in public service simply because I like to help people. I am not getting rich from this; I am not getting kickbacks. I am a good human being. I am scrupulous, and I have remained scrupulous for 30 frickin' years."
The relationship between Cor and Rubin -- both in the private realm and in the Ranches -- would also seem to create an ethical minefield. But Rubin says it's just good business. "There are just a few good, honest, talented people in Broward County," he declared, "and I like to work with good and honest business people."
Did Rubin know the good and honest Cor was also a convicted felon?
"No, I did not," he answered.
In 1983, when he was 37 years old, Cor was charged with fraud and grand theft for a scheme that involved a burned-out Rolls-Royce. At the time, Cor was separated from his wife and rooming with a 23-year-old man named Sean Weygant. The Broward State Attorney's Office accused Cor of orchestrating a fake theft of the car and lying to the insurance company about its value.
An insurance company executive with the defrauded firm, United Services Automobile Association, wrote to the court that Cor used "extreme methods" to rip off his company. Court transcripts show that during the 1985 trial, the prosecutor declared to the jury that Cor "started out on a lie and he continued to lie. He used his... position in the community to his benefit. He was smart."
Not smart enough, apparently. A jury convicted him of three felonies, though one for bank fraud was later overturned on appeal. After he was initially sentenced to 18 months in prison, the court later allowed him to serve the time under house arrest. Cor was also sentenced to five years of probation and forced to pay $19,300 in restitution to the insurance company. His real-estate license was revoked for a time but later reinstated.
To this day, Cor says he was hoodwinked by "the kid," Weygant, whom he claims executed the entire fraud. "It was like watching a really bad movie but you can't change the channel," Cor recalled of his trial, himself becoming emotional. "I have nothing more deep, dark, or dank in my past than that."
Rubin found a positive spin to the crime.
"That experience probably made him even more ethical," said the commissioner's husband.
When it comes to ethics, though, Cor, Rubin, and other Southwest Ranches officials often seem to play very close to the vest. Nothing illustrates that better than the town's unique -- and much maligned -- plan to give an out-of-town developer $900,000 in taxpayer money.
Next week: Part 2.