As first reported on this here bloggy blog by Bob Norman back in 2010, Tamarac City Commissioner Patricia "Positively Patte" Atkins-Grad was arrested and charged with bribery, official misconduct, receiving unlawful compensation, and conspiring to commit unlawful compensation after she threw herself one helluvan election victory party.
Nothing wrong with a party, of course. Except that this party was pretty extravagant, and was paid for by developers Bruce and Shawn Chait, whom Atkins-Grad had taken a total of $6,300 worth of benefits, including to help lease her a BMW.
But, on Tuesday, jurors took just a little over an hour to find Atkins-Grad not guilty of all corruption charges against her.
Victory party, anyone??
Atkins-Grad, 66, burst into tears of relief and embraced her attorney, Kenneth Malnik, as the not guilty verdict was read.
Malnik's argument was that the Chaits are unethical, manipulative and arrogant, while painting Atkins-Grad, a Democrat, as someone who was simply in over her head with her newly elected job. Atkins-Grad did admit to taking the Chaits' money, but her lawyer argued she was simply naïve and not at all corrupt.
Prosecutor Deborah Zimet told jurors that Atkins-Grad knew exactly what she was doing when she took the money. But Bruce Chait didn't help matters when he testified that he thought the commissioner was "dumber than a rock."
The jurors took an hour and fifteen minutes to deliver their verdict.
Atkins-Grad now says she will "give some serious thought" to returning to the remaining portion of her elected term, which expires in 2014.
"I only did good things. I loved what I did," she said of her time in public office. "After all, I won twice - the constituents know who I am."
Gov. Rick Scott is expected to lift Atkins-Grad's suspension in the coming days.
"I feel sad for them, I feel bad for them," Atkins-Grad said when asked about the Chaits. "I think there's something not normal about them. Should I be angry with them? I don't know."