For the Love of Golf: The Joe Eggelletion Story
I'll never forget interviewing Joe Eggelletion's former student at Dillard High, Angelita Sanders, about her meetings with the man in recent years.
Sanders, who had a son of Eggelletion's out of wedlock after they struck up a romance while she was still a teenager, said the man had changed drastically over the years. Where once there was a gregarious teacher, there was now a hardened and paranoid politician. He would set up clandestine meetings, looking around everywhere they went. He didn't like to talk on the phone. When they left a place, he insisted that she leave first, and then he would follow.
The paranoia comes through in the criminal complaint filed today by federal officials alleging that Eggelletion laundered money through contacts in the Bahamas. (The man who made the introduction between Eggelletion and the feds? None other than Fitzroy Salesman, the former Miramar commissioner who was also arrested this morning.) When it came time for him to receive illicit money for a money-laundering scheme, Eggelletion insisted that his friend (or bag man, you might call him) Ronald Lee Owens take the money from the undercover FBI agents before he would ever touch it.
Perhaps the most telling thing is where Eggelletion allegedly had Owens put the money -- into his golf bag while the two of them were hitting the links.
The man loves golf; it's his greatest pastime and certainly of one of his most glaring
weaknesses. While today's charges have nothing to do with his public office, another open investigation involves a golf membership.
More than $10,000 was allegedly paid by development firm Prestige Homes for Eggelletion's membership at Parkland Golf & Country Club. Prestige, which is owned by Bruce Chait, is building a controversial housing project on -- you guessed it -- a golf course in Eggelletion's district. Eggelletion strongly supported the project even though it was vehemently opposed by many of his constituents.
I don't think you've heard the last of that investigation. Apparently the story coming from Prestige and Eggelletion is that the developer delivered the cash for the golf membership because the county commissioner was in too big a hurry to walk into the place and do it himself. We'll see if that holds up.
Apparently even the FBI realized that golf was the way to Eggelletion's heart. He warmed up to them only after the agents donated $5,000 to his charitable foundation, GOLF, which stands for the Golf-Oriented Leadership Fund.
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