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Salesman Friend: "I'm Totally Surprised."

Eric Hammond was one of former Miramar Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman's most generous campaign donors and most devoted allies. An engineer in Plantation, Hammond is of Caribbean descent, like Salseman, but before they met in the Caribbean American Democratic Club they met as a fellow activists. Having run for numerous city and state offices over the past decade, Hammond has met lots of locals, but he's stayed in close touch with Salesman.

"Our personalities just meshed, and we've been friends for a long time" says Hammond who says he met Salesman in the Nineties. "He's really a nice guy -- irrespective of what happened here."

As for the allegations that Salesman took bribes, Hammond says, "I'm totally surprised. I never saw him at this level -- with this sort of thing."

Hammond saw a different politician: "I know he was a very strong personality -- a great critical thinker who could flush out a problem and get to the bottom of it. He's a true community activist."

Apparently, Hammond had such faith in Salesman that he and his company donated at least $750 to the Salesman campaign. Nearly all the big donors disappeared by the time Salesman ran for office in 2009, after he'd been removed for office for pulling out a gun in a Winn Dixie. But Hammond was no fairweather friend. He contributed $750 to Salesman's losing bid for his Miramar seat.

But all faith has its limits. "I don't know what's going to come of this," says Hammond, but doesn't like what he's read so far. "These are federal charges -- and when the feds come forward, they usually have you all wrapped up."

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Thomas Francis

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