Lights, Camera, Trial: Welcome to Fitzroy Land | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Lights, Camera, Trial: Welcome to Fitzroy Land

Next week begins what will surely be an entertaining show: the trial of the irascible and always controversial former Miramar Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman on bribery charges.

There promises to be excellent sound -- in the form of recorded wiretaps -- and videotape taken by FBI agents. Throw in possible inclusion of the testimony of a reputed Bloods gang member and alleged drug use and prostitute seeking by the former politician and you have what could become one juicy public corruption trial.

The ever-aggressive Jamie Benjamin has alleged the use of rogue informants, racism, and "other outrageous government conduct" in pretrial motions and, notably, in the Sun-Sentinel.

Federal prosecutors didn't like that and responded in kind, claiming, essentially, that Salesman was a greedy politician who willingly joined forces with undercover agents posing as shady "quasi-lobbyists" and unscrupulous construction executives.

One witness who may or may not be called is the aforementioned gang member, Alden "Alpo" Budhoo. Prosecutors have said in court documents that they don't intend to call Budhoo as a witness. Benjamin has indicated that he will. In a motion filed Tuesday, the government indicated it will play hardball if the gang member takes the stand.

"Testimony Fitzroy Salesman was observed using purchasing [sic], had knowingly purchased stolen electronics in the past, specifically purchased two stolen computers and one flat screen television provided through the FBI and was seeking

prostitutes would all be presented through Alden Budhoo, the original cooperating witness in the case...," prosecutors wrote. "The government's position is that... we are in agreement that defendant Salesman' participation in drugs, prostitutes and stolen property is extrinsic evidence that we will not seek to introduce in our case."

Unless, of course, Budhoo is called as a witness. Then the gloves come off.

It's just one subdrama playing out in the case. Another is the government's use of Irish national Pat Lochrie, who served as an informant. Benjamin wants the government to produce Lochrie, who is reportedly in Saudi Arabia on business, as a witness.

We don't have to, prosecutors wrote in the motion.

"If the witness is not willing to testify, there is nothing the government can do to compel him to testify," prosecutors wrote. "The witness is apparently in the Middle East on business. The witness is not United States citizen. The federal government does not have the authority to compel a foreign national living abroad to testify at trial in the United States."

The trial begins Monday.

-- From the raw information file, the following is the text of an anonymous email that came across the Pulp transom today. It claims that top management at Gibraltar Bank -- which handled Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler's accounts -- looked the other way on Scott Rothstein's suspicious activity during the course of running his Ponzi scheme while lower-level employees there raised concerns.


Gibraltar people tried to stop Rothstein

Why are little people at Gibraltar being named?  They tried to do the right things. The bank [upper management] was... who kept stopping people from looking into Rothstein's accounts.  When that accountant Gary Berkowitz sent the letter to Gibraltar saying Rothsteins new deposit funds were legit, some people at Gibraltar were suspicious.  Julia Ansari had a list of concerns and didn't think the letter was anywhere close to good enough.  Chuck Sanders the chief risk officer talked about it with the bank c.f.o. and c.o.o. and they were all worried about the letter being so general and how the accountant used wording to be sure he didn't really vouch for the source of the money. They told their concerns to the bank president but he wasn't happy they were "bothering" one of their best clients. [Upper management] told them to accept the accountant letter and stop upsetting Rothstein. Rothstein was a top client and he was introducing the [top management] to wealthy people and bringing new clients. 

The c.f.o. called a special meeting with Julia Ansari, Chuck Sanders and others with the [top management].  [Top management] heard all the concerns and agreed they should look into the situation.  But as it went on he wouldn't allow them to do anything and told them to accept Rothstein's explanations. 

Later the c.o.o got into an argument with John Harris at a big meeting with about 10 people and the president.  The c.o.o. was digging at Harris to explain why he wasn't following rules and regulations with clients like Rothstein. [Top management] told the c.o.o. leave Harris alone because he was doing things right to keep the clients happy.  The next day the c.o.o. was gone, the official announcement said he resigned but everyone said he was really fired.

The chief risk officer kept trying to get Harris to follow rules and regulations but [top management] kept backing up Harris.  The c.r.o. even had to go to the board of directors and get the audit chairman to get involved.  Then [top management] told Harris to clean up his act, but never enforced anything after that.

The real problem is the president stopping people from doing there jobs and protecting Rothstein when everybody knew something wasn't right.  Somebody should ask them what happened.

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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

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