Former Parkland Mayor Hit With Perjury Charge

Here's a Pulp exclusive: Former Parkland Mayor Robert Marks was charged yesterday with misdemeanor perjury by the State Attorney's Office. The case (here's the link to the Clerk of Courts page), brings an end to the long investigation into Parks' relationship with a major developer, WCI Communities, that helped the mayor's janitorial company get work while he was voting for approvals on WCI's developments.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement led the investigation and rumors were flying that it was headed for a grand jury. Numerous felonies were in play, but sources say that State Attorney Michael Satz's office cut a deal with Marks for him to cop to the misdemeanor, sparing him further public embarrassment and possible jail time.

Marks made big news last year when his wife, Carolyn, ran against him for the mayor's seat (prompting the memorable Sun-Sentinel headline: "Bedfellows Make Strange Politics"). The wife's run was for one reason only: If Marks were indicted, she could keep the seat in the family. Carolyn exited the campaign early and Michael Udine cruised to victory over Marks, ending his eight-year run in office.

I haven't seen the court file yet, so I'm not sure what exactly they got Marks for lying about. But it surely centers on Marks' work at a clubhouse at Heron Bay, a WCI development. Marks' company, ACT Janitorial, was hired to clean up after meetings. WCI managed the clubhouse (which is called Heron Bay Commons) and Marks, at the same time, was a sure vote for WCI at city hall. So it was an obviously corrupt business relationship, but Marks pleaded ignorance, claiming, quite incredibly, that he didn't know that WCI managed the clubhouse.

You can bet the perjury charge has to do with those wacky claims. I didn't start this investigation -- it began in late 2004 with an anonymous tip. Sallie James of the Sun-Sentinel was the first to write about the investigation. My scoop was finding evidence that WCI had a direct hand in hiring Marks, which made his claim that he didn't know about the company's involvement that much more absurd and added evidence that the mayor's actions were criminal.

Here's the thing, though. If Marks was lying about not knowing that WCI managed the clubhouse, then he's guilty of a whole lot more than misdemeanor perjury. Sounds like Satz, who is coming off the Keith Wasserstrom conviction, has once again gone very easy on an elected official. Makes you wonder what he's going to do with several other potential corruption cases floating out there.

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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