Two Coral Springs commissioners were found not guilty today on charges that they violated the state's Sunshine Law -- but not by the jury that was sitting to hear the case.
Instead, Broward County Judge Fred Berman stopped the trial and issued a directed verdict to clear commissioners Tom Powers and Vince Boccard. Berman felt that the burden of proof hadn't been met by the government in the case.
The two men, who had been suspended from office while facing the second-degree misdemeanor charges, will now regain their seats. They had been accused of meeting police union officials to talk about city business, which if true would constitute a violation of Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine law.
I never liked that case much from the beginning, but what concerns me is that the loss might have an adverse effect on the important work that the State Attorney's Office is currently doing in other more serious corruption investigations -- ones that involve payoffs of various kinds and millions of dollars in taxpayers' money.
Not a chance, said Tim Donnelly, head of the SAO's special prosecutions unit.
"It's not going to deter us from keeping on going forward on these cases and stepping up to the plate," said Donnelly.
Good to hear. I also asked Donnelly about the reopening of the investigation into Broward County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman involving her lobbying work for the Pinnacle Housing Group.
"I can't discuss pending investigations," Donnelly said in what I took as a confirmation.