A Long Political Squabble Over a Short Pier

Steve Gonot tries to cure Deerfield Beach of a political sickness.

Gonot says that after that lunch, Boinis really turned the screws on him. The developer asked the commissioner to meet him at Muddy Waters restaurant on Hillsboro Boulevard. Gonot says Boinis made him many offers there.

"He said, 'I can get you lots of money for the race. You'll have all the money you need, and not only that, you'll have all the money you need for the next election.'

"Then he said, 'I'd like to see you as mayor. In 2009, you will have plenty of money for the mayor's race. '"

But first, Gonot would have to support the pier restaurant deal. And if he didn't? Gonot says Boinis brought up Amadeo "Trinchi" Trinchitella, the powerful Deerfield Beach commissioner and Century Village condo political boss who was a strong advocate of the pier project.

"Boinis said, 'I would hate to see anybody run against you. Trinchi's secretary is talking about it, but I'm sure we could make that go away,'" Gonot recounts.

"I took that to mean, if I don't support his pier restaurant, she is going to be running against me."

Numerous phone calls to Boinis went unanswered. Deetjen says the developer probably doesn't want to talk about the ongoing case.

Gonot says that after that lunch, he notified Maurodis and went to the State Attorney's Office, where he met with public corruption chief Tim Donnelly.

"There cannot be a quid pro quo for a vote," Gonot explains. "He gave an inducement. He could legally support me, but he cannot provide me an inducement for my vote."

Donnelly told him that he would conduct an investigation and gave him a tape recorder for his phone and permission to record any calls with Boinis. State Attorney's Office spokesman Ron Ishoy says the case is still active.

Boinis, who was in the Bahamas last week, didn't return phone calls. Instead, he had his attorney, Jeffrey Greenberg, phone me. "Mr. Boinis denies that he ever offered Gonot anything in exchange for a vote," Greenberg said.

Greenberg added that the State Attorney's Office is investigating criminal allegations against Gonot, though he wouldn't elaborate. Gonot said he learned from Donnelly that Boinis claimed to prosecutors that the commissioner had tried to bribe him rather than the other way around.

For his part, Gonot didn't get any incriminating phone calls on tape. He says he never even tried.

"I just wanted Boinis to back off," he says. "I wasn't out to take this guy down. I didn't want to set the guy up. I just wanted him to back off."

But, sure enough, Trinchitella's "secretary," Anita Cruz, who worked as an accountant at Century Village, ran against Gonot and raised thousands of dollars from the pro-development crowd. Boinis himself contributed at least $3,000 to the Cruz campaign.

Fate then played a role. Trinchi died in February 2005. A month later, the Boinis proposal finally came up for a vote. Because Gonot, who was the swing vote, held firm that he would never support it, the commission wound up voting unanimously to kill Deetjen's unpopular plan.

A week after that, Gonot trounced Cruz in the election, even though she outraised him by 50 percent.

One might think that would have ended it, but it didn't. Boinis still sits in the wings, waiting for a chance to reintroduce his plan to take over the beach pier.

"This is personal with these guys — they aren't going to be beat," Gonot says. "Typically, I thought businesspeople know when to move on, but they won't stop. These guys never stop."

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