Then-Broward County Commissioner Joe Eggelletion trusted his friend Ronald Owens with his money and his freedom.
And in the end, Owens betrayed him.
Eggelletion's federal criminal complaint shows that when it came time to be paid his share of a Bahamian money-laundering scheme that was part of an FBI sting, Eggelletion refused to take money from the undercover FBI agents.
The complaint shows that Eggelletion hand-picked Owens as his representative, introducing him to undercover agents as his surrogate. And Owens, early on in the case, represented him faithfully. "Owens told an undercover agent and a cooperating witness that, based on Eggelletion's instruction, whatever Eggelletion's 'points' were, that money would have to come to him... to prevent a trail that would show in the United States."
You see? Owens was Eggelletion's straw man, the guy who would shield him from authorities if the laundering scheme were to come to light. Eggelletion wouldn't take money from the undercover agents, whom he clearly didn't
trust. It first had to go through Owens, who would deliver it (once into Eggelletion's golf bag during a round).
But even then Eggelletion was extremely cautious, refusing money at times, claiming to return it, saying he didn't know what it was for, etc. It appears he was trying to set up plausible deniability for his role.
But what Eggelletion didn't know was that his trusted friend, Owens, had flipped. How do we know that? One reason is that, like Beverly Gallagher, Owens was allowed to self-surrender yesterday while his former friend, Eggelletion, was taken down in a surprise arrest at his home. Another South Florida defendant in the Eggelletion case, Joel Williams, was also arrested at home and not given the opportunity to surrender.
Why would Owens be given such a courtesy? For the same reason Gallagher was given it: Because they cooperated with the feds.
Another confirmation, this one airtight, comes in the complaint itself. The complaint doesn't outright state that Owens became an informant, but judging by the way things went down, it's the only conclusion to make.
On February 22, 2008, the last date mentioned in the complaint, Owens met privately with Eggelletion to deliver the commissioner's final $15,000 cut from the scheme. It was a private meeting; the complaint indicates there were no agents present.
Yet the FBI quotes liberally from that meeting anyway. And that means one of two things: Either Owens was wearing a wire or else he gave a statement about that meeting to the feds afterward. The quotes in the complaint indicate it was the former, that the meeting was recorded. Either way, Owens flipped on his friend.
And Eggelletion, a man who trusted almost no one, was set up by one of the few friends he thought he had in the world.