Justice is served. What started as an investigative column in the New Times is now part of Broward County history: The jury found Keith Wasserstrom guilty on two counts of official misconduct, felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.
I had predicted they would come back with not guilty verdicts after Judge Lazarus unbelievably threw out the key charge in the case of unlawful compensation. But that's one thing I am glad I was wrong about. The only sad thing is that, had Lazarus not thrown out the unlawful compensation charge, they almost surely would have convicted on that one, too.
In the end, the jury saw through defense attorney Milton Hirsch's ridiculous charade -- that Wasserstrom was doing "God's work" when he tried to make a fortune off a sewage company seeking business in his city -- and let the facts speak for themselves. (Note to Hirsch: Try to teach your students at the University of Miami to be more honorable than you are.)
Congratulations to the activists in Hollywood -- Pete Brewer, Howard Sher, and Sara Case cheif among them -- for getting a victory against the bastards running their city.
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Congratulations also to prosecutors Catherine Maus and Tim Donnelly. They could have done better and never should have lost the unlawful compensation count, but it turned out that their low-key, just-the-facts style and minimalistic case worked. Maus, in particular, did excellent work drawing out the two key witnesses in the case, Mayor Mara Giulianti and Wasserstrom's "blabbermouth" uncle, Arnold Goldman. With Giulianti, she let the mayor's petty and defensive side flourish and with Goldman, well, she expertly led him to blab about his nephew and the corrupt scheme they concocted together in Hollywood.
Maus also worked tirelessly on this case, which is the first in decades brought to trial by her boss, State Attorney Michael Satz, who also deserves congratulations for his first victory at trial in a corruption case involving an elected official since ... ever. I'm trying to confirm, but I think it's the first in in his 30 years running the State Attorney's Office.
Congratulations to the Miami Herald, too, for hopefully a lesson learned. The newspaper completely missing the point of the trial day in and day out, failing to report the damning evidence that was presented, and consistently focusing on red herrings favoring the defense. Live and learn.
And, finally, goodbye to BNIAF, who I assume is now going to shut up -- at least publicly -- about the virtues of the innocent Wasserstrom.