Broward News

Double Agent? Hallandale Realtor May Have Represented Buyer and Seller in Deal for Park Land

Joe Kessel, a real estate agent who since July 2008 has been under contract as a consultant for Hallandale Beach, collected $15,700 in commission that same year after the city purchased a lot at 814 SW Eighth Ave., according to documents provided to Juice.

The purchase for what would become Sunset Park cost the city $525,000. And it appears that Kessel used his consultant's role to influence the city to make the deal.

Ironically, the whisteblower appears to be Mayor Joy Cooper, who has been a fierce defender of Kessel's contract with the city.

In responding to a previous Juice post questioning that consultant's deal, Cooper said that Kessel "worked on two projects for the City Manager since 2008; tennis complex designs and Sunset Park land purchase."

So if Kessel worked for the city on the Sunset Park purchase, that means he was on the buyer's side. But if he collected commission from the sale, it makes one wonder if he must have also represented the seller. A bit of a conflict of interest, it would seem.

I called Kessel to get his explanation. But after I introduced myself, he said, "I'm going to hang up now." Mayor Cooper did not immediately return a call for comment. Nor did City Manager Mike Good, who forged the contract with Kessel.

City documents show that in the same year, the city spent $450,000 for another park, this one on NE Fifth Street. In that deal, a Century 21 realtor -- perhaps Kessel, who was with that firm at the time -- was paid a commission of $13,500. Altogether, that's nearly a million dollars in land purchases made through the real estate firm of an agent who had a contract to be paid $3,000 per month by the city.

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Thomas Francis