A Blast From the Past

 

Watching this critique of an anti-Bill McCollum ad, you wonder if all this nonstop politricks hasn't finally driven Michael Putney off the reservation, but you gotta keep your sense of humor.

It's Sunday, so this is a comment cleaner. Inside, read an amazing political story from 1988 that proves politics in Broward County has always been flat-out nuts.

The Miami Herald

May 23, 1988 Monday
BRWRD EDITION

BYLINE: CAROLYN MITTERMAIER Herald Staff Writer

Bribery scheme admitted

I'll tell why, Titone pledges

LAUDERHILL -- City Attorney Anthony J. Titone acknowledged Sunday that a bribe was offered unsuccessfully to his political rival, Mayor Ilene Lieberman.

But Titone, responding to reports that he paid a private investigator to offer Lieberman a bribe to win a garbage contract for a bogus company supposedly based in New Jersey, declined to discuss in detail what happened. He said he had just cause for his actions and promised to explain today.

"I will show probable cause tomorrow," Titone said Sunday. "I'll let you all know why I acted the way I did."

"I'm in a state of shock about it all," Lieberman said Sunday. "No one would expect someone who is your attorney would set up such circumstances."

Four law enforcement agencies that reportedly investigated the scheme -- the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Broward Sheriff's Office and the Broward state attorney's office -- found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and have closed the cases, according to Lieberman and Dave Casey, spokesman for the state attorney's office.

Titone and Lieberman have been rivals since 1984, when Lieberman was elected to the Lauderhill City Council. Lieberman has fought unsuccessfully to remove Titone as city attorney. He, in turn, has said he doesn't trust Lieberman and testified as a character witness against her in 1987, when Lieberman faced charges she interfered with a city election. A judge dismissed the case.

The attempt to bribe Lieberman began in April, said Richard Cullen, a Plantation private investigator who said he was hired by Titone. Cullen said Titone told him he had a client in the waste-disposal business who felt he was getting squeezed out of Lauderhill. Cullen said he was instructed to contact Frank Roberts, a former Lieberman campaign adviser, and offer him a bribe of $30,000 or more.

Titone wrote Cullen a check for $500, the investigator said.

"I got home," Cullen said, "and I said to myself, 'This is not right.' I was uneasy all weekend."

On April 25, Cullen said he called the FBI and was referred to the FDLE, which instructed him to go ahead with the plan.

"I called the mayor right away," after hearing from Cullen, Roberts said Sunday.

Lieberman and Roberts said they contacted Broward Sheriff's Capt. Gene Slinkman, who is in charge of the sheriff's Lauderhill division. Roberts said Slinkman, who declined to comment Sunday, instructed him to set up a meeting with Cullen in a public place.

Meantime, Cullen said FDLE set him up in a bugged room in a Holiday Inn at U.S. 441 and Commercial Boulevard in Tamarac, where he and Roberts were to meet the afternoon of May 2.

Roberts said that he got to the room and asked Cullen to talk downstairs. In the coffee shop, they discussed a bribe, he said.

"At that point, we were both roping each other in," Roberts said.

Roberts told Cullen he would have to check at the next council meeting before an agreement could be made. Then Lieberman and Roberts went to the Broward state attorney's office.

Roberts said he was shocked when he learned from the state attorney's office that Titone had set up the bribery scheme. He said he has not talked to Titone. 


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