FBI Takes Over Ashbritt Case; Officials Nervous

It started with a meeting between mega-lobbyist Ron Book and Broward School Board construction czar Michael Garretson and turned into a $765,000 fiasco.

I'm talking, of course, about the Ashbritt affair, wherein the company is accused of ripping off the board during its work on schools after Hurricane Wilma. When School Board auditors issued a stinging report pointing to possible fraud, School Board members were outraged. Not because taxpayers may have been hosed but because auditors had dared to challenge the status quo. School Board Member Stephanie Kraft led the charge against the truth and openly harangued Auditor Pat Reilly at a public meeting about it.

Well, a higher power is now in charge of the Ashbritt matter. The federal government subpoenaed Garretson and the board for all Ashbritt records. I got a copy of the subpoena (click here to see it) which demands that Garretson testify at 

the grand jury this morning, but it appears from his accompanying memo that it's been put off at least a week with the "deadline" for employees to cough up records coming October 7.

I've seen a lot of those records. And let me be the first to say: I wouldn't want to be the person who has to defend the School Board's business practices in the Ashbritt matter.

-- Good news is that amid all this federal stuff, the lone state corruption conviction at trial in many years has been upheld by the Court of Appeals. Former Hollywood Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom still has a 60-day jail sentence awaiting him. This has special importance to the Pulp since my reporting sparked the investigation. Dude should have just done the time -- gotta be spending a fortune on lawyers like Milton Hirsch.

-- Just a note on the Marlins. Good season, good team, with punctuations of greatness -- rookie Coughlin, Hanley's expoits, last night's team record Nolasco strikeout performance with 9 K's in a row, the great support of guys like Gload and Helms, etc. I have to get on Fredi for one thing: He never should have stuck with Nunez as closer for so long. The two defining losses in the stretch were devastating blown saves against Washington and New York. Nunez was the natural setup guy, and Fredi should have dusted off Tim Donnelly for the closer role since, uh, he's a guy who has World Series championship experience in that role. I think the Marlins would still be in this thing but for that. 

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Bob Norman
Contact: Bob Norman