Diane Glasser, a top Democratic official and current Tamarac city commissioner, admitted accepting $4,000 in cash from dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait in 2006, according to State Attorney's Office investigative records.Glasser also said in a sworn interview that former Tamarac Commissioner and fellow Democratic official Marc Sultanof told her he had accepted "help" in leasing a Honda automobile from the Chaits. Glasser, 83, said the 89-year-old Sultanof told her that he didn't expect to go to jail for his transgression but would have to "pay a fine."
One new name to emerge from the documents: Broward lobbyist and major fundraiser Alex Heckler, who also serves as treasurer for the national Democratic Governor's Association. Shawn Chait testified that during a meeting with Tamarac Mayor Beth Flansbaum-Talabisco and her campaign manager, Beverly Stracher, at Stracher's home, he was told that he needed to finance a 527 campaign committee to help ensure Talabisco's election.
"I needed to get, I think, two separate checks and bring them to Alex Heckler in Fort Lauderdale," Chait testified.
The Chaits rounded up $21,000 in checks from two subcontractors and did just that. The money financed a last-weekend attack-mailer binge of the opponents of Talabisco, who voted for the Chaits' project shortly after her election to the mayor's seat.
Heckler told me today that he served as the attorney for the committee after being approached about it by Democratic operative Barry Harris. There's no evidence Heckler did anything improper. "I think this is the [committee] that raised the least amount of money but has been the biggest pain," Heckler said.
The Chaits, meanwhile, have themselves apparently avoided jail time. They pleaded guilty today to a single count each of unlawful compensation and were sentenced to four years of probation in exchange for their cooperation in the corruption probe that is targeting numerous politicians and political consultants, including County Commissioners Stacy Ritter and Ilene Lieberman.Glasser, the longtime second in command in the Broward Democratic Party under Chairman Mitch Ceasar, received immunity in exchange for her June 15 testimony during a sworn interview with Assistant State Attorney Jeannette Camacho. She has long been a political force in Broward County and has been close to almost every person involved in the probe, including Lieberman, who lives in Tamarac, and Ritter, who now lives in nearby Parkland.
Glasser's involvement with the Chaits was tied to her work as campaign manager for Patte Atkins-Grad during the latter's successful 2006 run for Tamarac City Commission. Atkins-Grad has already been charged with receiving more thousands in payments from the Chaits, including $4,000 cash for her election victory party and $2,300 for her down payment on a BMW lease. She voted for the Chaits' project shortly after her election.
The Chaits told prosecutors under oath that they also paid more than $10,000 cash in illegal campaign contributions to Adkins-Grad, some of them through Glasser. But Glasser denied knowledge of any illicit campaign payments and also denied that she knew the Chaits had paid Atkins-Grad any bribes. But when Camacho asked her if she was paid "any money whatsoever," Glasser brought up the $4,000.
"Well, if you're saying any money whatsoever, they did give me
some money," answered Glasser, who was accompanied by her Plantation attorney, Carl Lida.
"After [Atkins-Grad] was elected in?" Camacho asked.
"Yes," said Glasser.
"OK, who gave that to you?"
"The Chaits, the young guy," Glasser said, referring to Shawn Chait.
"OK, and how much did he give you?"
"OK," continued Camacho, "I'm going to assume, because this is how he does it, in cash?"
"Yes...," said Glasser. "That [money] was for me because he was concerned about her winning, and he thought I did a great job."
Wow. A top Democratic official and campaign manager accepting $4,000 in cash from a shady developer. That doesn't sound kosher, and you have to wonder if Glasser paid taxes on that money. I'm putting in a call to Lida and will update.
Glasser also recounted a conversation with Marc Sultanof, her close ally in Tamarac, about his acceptance of a favor from the Chaits. She said he had told her that he had a problem with a car lease.
"He did say to me, he said that he got out of lease and that the Chaits helped him to facilitate getting a new car," Glasser testified. "What that really meant, I don't know. But that's what he said to me. He said that the Chaits helped him so he was able to get rid of the car that he had, the lease that he had, and buy the new car. I think it was a Honda."
"Did he tell you that the Chaits bought him the car?" asked Camacho.
"He didn't exactly say that, go that far," answered Glasser. "But he did say that they helped him, you know, achieve what he wanted to do... He didn't talk about money at all. He keeps saying he never took anything, he never took anything."
Glasser was also asked if she had ever seen Ritter riding a golf cart around Kings Point, specifically in an open barbecue area at the massive condo complex.
"Did you ever see Stacy Ritter driving around in a golf cart while she was at Kings Point?" Camacho asked.
"No," answered Glasser.
"So you never saw her?"
"No, never saw her."