Swamp Land Broker Ira Cor Cruised on FBI Yacht | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Swamp Land Broker Ira Cor Cruised on FBI Yacht

Longtime government real-estate operative and convicted felon Ira Cor was another guest on an FBI boat at a party thrown for School Board Member Beverly Gallagher by undercover agents, the Pulp has learned.

Cor attended the December 10 party -- which was part of a years-long FBI corruption sting -- on the Intracoastal in Fort Lauderdale with Gallagher, who was suspended from her School Board post after bribery and extortion charges were filed against her two weeks ago.

Cor, who went aboard the FBI boat along with his wife, is no stranger to government corruption. Among other things, he was the broker of a $4.3 million parcel of useless swamp land that was sold by the town of Southwest Ranches to the Broward County School Board in 2004. The district planned to use the land for what is now West Broward High School (which was built on another site that cost taxpayers $25 million more). Prior to the purchase, Cor told officials that it was 80 percent dry, a claim that turned out to be completely

erroneous. School Board construction chief Michael Garretson told the Sun-Sentinel he was "misled" before he authorized the purchase. Yet, Garretson too should have known better since consultants informed the School Board that the land was unsuitable for a school months before the purchase.

And guess which school member pushed the School Board to buy swamp? None other than Beverly Gallagher, who represented the area where the school was planned. From a 2006 article in the Sentinel:

Cor said School Board member Beverly Gallagher, who represents southwest Broward, was pushing hard for the land. "Like every other School Board member, she was trying to provide schools for people in her district," Cor said.

Gallagher said Southwest Ranches convinced her the land was suitable by showing a sketch of what the high school would look like on the land.

"They showed me that picture of the school," she said. "To me that meant that you could build on all of [the land]."

Hear that? Gallagher pushed the district to spend millions of dollars on useless swamp based on a picture (well, then again, that's the way a whole lot of Florida swamp has been sold). And the woman was reelected.

You would think that after supposedly being duped by Cor and Southwest Ranches and wasting so much taxpayer money, Gallagher would have spurned him. Naw, their friendship just grew deeper, as the FBI boat party indicates.

Cor made a fortune brokering public land deals for Southwest Ranches and Broward County, yet he's a guy who shouldn't be allowed within three miles of taxpayer money. I investigated Cor's connection to two Broward County commissioners, Diana Wasserman-Rubin and Ilene Lieberman, a few years back. Here's a bit on his criminal history:  

In 1983, when he was 37 years old, Cor was charged with fraud and grand theft for a scheme that involved a burned-out Rolls-Royce. At the time, Cor was separated from his wife and rooming with a 23-year-old man named Sean Weygant. The Broward State Attorney's Office accused Cor of orchestrating a fake theft of the car and lying to the insurance company about its value.

An insurance company executive with the defrauded firm, United Services Automobile Association, wrote to the court that Cor used "extreme methods" to rip off his company. Court transcripts show that during the 1985 trial, the prosecutor declared to the jury that Cor "started out on a lie and he continued to lie. He used his... position in the community to his benefit. He was smart."

Smart for sure. One thing the guy knows is that the way to an elected official's heart in Broward is through her purse. Cor unlocks a winding labyrinth of corruption dating back years and years.

It was Cor, for instance, who got Commissioner Lieberman her lobbying job with Michael Wohl, owner of Pinnacle Housing. Wohl has never been convicted of any crime, but he had serious ethical problems. Wohl resigned from the Florida Bar after being accused of altering a deed to steal a property from a client. I wrote extensively about Lieberman's work for the firm, leading to her resignation from the firm. Or I should say leading to Ilene Michelson's resignation -- the commissioner used her married name when she lobbied, as if that made any difference when it came to conflicts of interest. But that wasn't before another town, Pembroke Park, got hosed by Pinnacle to the tune of $3 million (read the link above for in-depth coverage on that one).

Cor also had financial ties to Richard Rubin, husband of Diana Wasserman-Rubin. At the same time that her husband received financial favor from Cor, Wasserman-Rubin voted on land deals brokered for the county by Cor. Conflict of interest? Yes. Business as usual in Broward County? Sure is.

Richard Rubin also had unholy ties with Southwest Ranches. You want to read about a corrupt town? Read this. After I found that Wasserman-Rubin had voted on her own husband's grant proposals that financially benefited Rubin, she was hit with an ethics violation and fine. 

Interestingly, working as a paid campaign consultant for Wasserman-Rubin right now is Gallagher's daughter, Annie Gallagher. Here's what I'm wondering: Did Beverly Gallagher have any conversations with Wasserman-Rubin when she went undercover for the feds in an attempt to shear some years off her potential prison sentence?

I bet Wasserman-Rubin is nervous about that right about now.