Broward First Man Russ Klenet All Over Federal Case | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Broward First Man Russ Klenet All Over Federal Case

One thing the 32-page indictment of Hollywood eye doctor and GOP bag man Alan Mendelsohn proves is that the FBI is still very adept at cloaking their investigation in darkness.

It's full of code names for campaign contributors and PACs that Mendelsohn manipulated in at least an attempt to bribe Charlie Crist and other officials to kill investigations into Mutual Benefits' Joel Steinger and pad his wallet and that of his "mistress," as the indictment calls her.

One of the most intriguing code names is "Accomplice #1," who is described as a "lobbyist and businessman working in Florida and other places." The accomplice helped Mendelsohn set up companies and PACs to funnel money to politicians for the purposes stated above.

There is naturally a lot of speculation that Accomplice #1 is Russell Klenet, the lobbyist husband of Broward Mayor Stacy Ritter, who was up to his ears in Steinger's business and led the fraudulent viatical company owner's legislative efforts in Tallahassee. In a deposition, Klenet once described Mendelsohn as "very

helpful" to his efforts involving Steinger and the indictment indicates that he was telling the truth on that point.

It's not clear whether Klenet is the accomplice and Mayor Ritter told the Sun-Sentinel yesterday that her hubbie isn't that guy. But Klenet is definitely referenced in the indictment a lobbyist for Steinger and other Mendelsohn contributors. The indictment, for instance, references "Contributor #1," an "owner of medical laboratories and other businesses" who hired a lobbyist in 2002 to "obtain legislation in the State of Florida that would enhance the profitability of his businesses."

This is believed to be close Klenet associate and client Mark Ginsburg, owner of Fort Lauderdale-based Nationwide Laboratory Service and a fellow with whom Klenet owns a 63-foot yacht. Klenet shepherded legislation through Tallahassee that his wife Ritter, then a House representative, voted for.

Then of course there is "Contributor #2," who is Joel Steinger. Klenet represented Mutual Benefits in Tallahassee (and again, Ritter, whose home was renovated by Steinger to the tune of $100,000, voted for it) and wound up getting into the viatical business through Steinger when he purchased Life Settlements International. A major investor in the business was Ginsburg.

I don't have confirmation, but I have been told by a reliable source that the two other Mendelsohn contributors referenced in the indictment were also Klenet clients. The underlying conclusion: Klenet was the glue holding this fiasco together.

Did Klenet cooperate with the feds? It's one of the questions I'm trying to answer as I unravel the mysteries of the Alan Mendelsohn case.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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