A Florida mayor was removed from office Friday after she was arrested and charged with three felony counts of corruption.
Gob. Rick Scott issued an executive order suspending Joy Cooper, the 57-year-old mayor of Hallandale Beach, a city north of Miami, after she was accused of accepting illegal campaign contributions through former lawyer Alan Koslow.
Cooper surrenders to authorities on Thursday after a covert investigation by the FBI. She was charged with money laundering, official misconduct and exceeding campaign contribution limits, Sun Sentinel reported.
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Court documents show that Koslow received a Dunkin & Donkeys bag filled with $ 8,000 in cash. cash by undercover agents August 2012. Supposedly he told undercover agents that he had influence in the city commission and "had the mayor's vote".
Agents allegedly met with Cooper and Koslow times in 2012 and secretly recorded the meetings. At one of those meetings, Cooper was registered saying that she and two other commissioners were a "team of three" and that they could ensure a favorable outcome for their project, the newspaper reported.
In addition, Cooper also allegedly requested funds for Anthony Sanders, the former Hallandale Beach commissioner, who resigned his post in August 2017 after allegations of having been incorrectly counted. The Sun Sentinel reported that Sanders was accused of voting to award nearly $ 1 million to a nonprofit organization that made monthly payments to his church and family.
In addition to felony charges, Cooper was also charged with soliciting contributions in a government building, a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year.
Felony charges carry maximum prison sentences of five years.
Larry Davis, his lawyer, said he plans to plead not guilty.
Cooper, a Democrat, has been the mayor of the city since 2005 and previously served on the city commission as of 1999.
"I can assure you that I will fight vigorously against these accusations in court," Cooper said. in a prepared statement obtained by the Sun Sentinel.
The news agency reported that Cooper emptied his office before turning himself in to Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday. She was released later that night.
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Eric Fordin, a developer, told the Sun Sentinel that he was "shocked" by the accusations against Cooper. 19659003] "(She) has always been so open, I remember she wrote a check for $ 2.45 for a soda at the opening of one of our hotels because she could not accept a drink," Fordin said.
Fordin said that the mayor or another Hallandale beach never asked or pressed him. politicians for contributions.
Deputy Mayor Keith London will assume Cooper's functions while suspended.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.