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Crumbling Castle

Police arrested Deerfield Beach Mayor Al Capellini last Friday and charged him with receiving unlawful compensation.

The charge stems from accusations that first surfaced in the 2006 Bob Norman column "Mayor Al Engineers Another Deal."

Capellini's "stunning" arrest, as the Sun-Sentinel deemed it, stems from a land deal in his city involving an office building constructed on Natura Boulevard. To help get the building approved by both the city and the county, the developer hired a guy with good connections in both governments.

None other than Al Capellini.

The developer, Deerfield Park Developers Inc., gave Capellini's private firm, Atlantis Environmental Engineering, $16,000 to make sure the controversial project got approved.

The dollar amount was one of the few facts unclear in 2006, but the details came out last week.

In the original article, Norman reported that Capellini touted the project on the dais, voted for its approval, and misled the public. It appeared, Norman reported, that Capellini's actions violated Florida law.

It turns out that the State Attorney's Office agreed and charged Capellini with a third-degree felony.

Capellini's involvement might have gone unnoticed, but he made it even worse by helping the developer design the road so that it flooded a road used by the nearby Natura retirement community.

Natura residents were livid about added traffic — and the mayor's role in bringing it to them. They took to calling the 70,000-square-foot building "Capellini's Castle." But the mayor never paid them any mind. Instead, he just kept backing the project (though he did abstain from some votes).

Well, after Friday's arrest, the mayor might come to reside for a time in another castle, this one a giant building overlooking the serene New River in Fort Lauderdale.

Too bad there aren't many windows at the Broward County Jail to enjoy the view.

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