Back in 2005, I questioned Richard Rubin, husband of criminally charged former Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin, about his relationship with the shadowy politically connected real estate broker Ira Cor.
Rubin worked as a sales associate in Cor's real estate firm. One problem with this arrangement was that Cor did behind-the-scenes business with several local governments and Rubin's wife often voted on Cor's deals. Another was the fact that Rubin was working for a felon -- Cor had been convicted of insurance fraud and grand theft in 1983 at age 37.
Both men were also deeply involved in dubious land deals orchestrated by the Town of Southwest Ranches that netted each about a million dollars in commissions.
Rubin told me in 2005 that he simply used his employment with Cor as a "legal resting place" and that when he conducted a real estate transaction, Cor reimbursed him "100 percent."
"Because I'm so ethical, I thought there wouldn't be a problem," said Rubin at the time.
As for Cor's criminal past, Rubin told me the felony conviction "probably made [Cor] even more
What Rubin failed to tell me was that he'd already orchestrated a $108,297 evasion of federal taxes -- using Cor's business as his cover. Rubin was charged yesterday by the U.S. Attorney's Office with tax evasion for failing to report two real estate commissions. One involved a $102,000 fee for brokering a land deal for the Town of Davie in 2004, the other a $6,297 fee coming from the sale of a condo in Hollywood.
Both fees were paid to Cor -- a prolific contributor to political campaigns -- who then passed the money on to Rubin. The problem is that Rubin never reported the income to the government, according to court documents.
The $108,297 was paid to Rubin in January 2005. That year, he and his wife, Wasserman-Rubin, filed a tax return indicating only $121,826 in joint taxable income. With his wife's $90,000 County Commission salary at the time, it looks like Rubin took a steep dive in business that year. The $106,297 commissions he failed to report constituted almost half the couple's income that year -- and his failure to report it saved the couple about $25,000 in taxes.
Rubin made his first appearance in court yesterday with attorney David Bogenschutz, and a plea deal appears already to be in the works. U.S. District Court Judge William Zloch will sentence Rubin -- and determine whether he does prison time. Rubin's wife faces trial on seven state counts of unlawful compensation related to her vote on grants her husband wrote -- and profited greatly from -- for the Town of Southwest Ranches.
A few lessons from this case:
1. Political connections, especially of the marital variety, can lead to huge windfalls of cash in this corrupt county, including Davie.
2. Never trust a politico who ties their ship to a felon (I'm looking at you, Ann Murray). Oh, and a felony fraud conviction rarely if ever makes anyone "even more ethical."
3. Pay all your taxes today.
-- This is simply incredible: The Palm Beach Postreports that Florida Gov. Rick Scott's general counsel has admitted to misleading the Florida Supreme Court during his argument to kill the high-speed rail project last month.
It amounts to a $79 million lie that the newspaper reports may have "cinched" the governor's victory in killing $2.4 billion in funding that would have launched Florida as the bullet train epicenter of America.
Scott's taxpayer-financed general counsel, Charles Trippe, admitted in a letter to Chief Justice Charles Canady that he misled the court when he claimed that $110 million of the $130 million in state-allotted funds for the project had already been expended. In reality, only $31 million had been spent.
Trippe argued that because there was only "de minimus" money left in the appropriation, the killing of the project wouldn't violate the legislative action to spend the money. The court apparently agreed.
State Sen. Thad Altman was one of two senators who sued Scott alleging he had exceeded his constitutional authority in killing the project. "We knew [Trippe[ was wrong when he said it in court but we couldn't stop him from saying it," Altman told the Post.
There's another lesson here: Never trust Rick Scott or his lawyers, even when they're standing before the Supreme Court.
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