One count down and four to go!!!
Today, Judge Melinda Brown dismissed the 5th charge against embattled Ex-City of Deerfield Beach Commissioner Sylvia Poitier.
The State charged Poitier with causing a public record to be falsified when she announced from the dais in October 2010 that she had advised the City of her relationship to Lionel Ferguson, who is her brother and one of the many, many debtors of the WDBA. After a brilliant maneuver by Poitier’s attorney, Johnny McCray, who basically indicated that Poitiers statements at that meeting had no material bearing on the public meeting and therefore did not cause any public record to be falsified. McCray and Assistant State Attorney, David Schulson, both indicated that the October 2010 meeting was not a hearing or a fact-finding session to determine Poitiers knowledge or guilt regarding not divulging the relationship; however, Chaz Stevens, Bill Ganz, Peggy Noland along with others insisted that this posed an “ETHICAL” conflict of interest based on Florida’s Sunshine Laws for Poitier which she should have announced while the Commission was determining if the WDBA should receive City grant funds to repay the utility bill owed to the City. Obviously, Judge Brown agreed with Poitier and McCray and so she dismissed the 5th charge.
I think it is important to note that the funds in question had already been proposed and discussions were held between the City and the WDBA that those funds would be going to pay the groups City of Deerfield Beach water utility bills for the low-income housing they were in charge of within the City. All of the States witnesses testified to this fact and the public records clearly showed the intent of the fund request and need for the allocation to the group. From all the information, exhibits, evidence, and testimonies presented by the State that I heard and saw nothing appeared to have established any attempts to conclude that Poitier conspired with anyone to hide the relationship between her, Lionel, and the loan in an attempt to secure the City’s funds to make a payment to her brother and thereby given him a “special gain”. Poitier herself testified today that she has never considered this a conflict and therefore had no reason or thought to mention it. The mere fact that Lionel is her brother does not constitute a declarable conflict under the law.
In a previous post entitled:
“Suspended Deerfield Beach City Commissioner, Sylvia Poitier: 4 of 5 Charges Possibly Meritless”
Which can be read here.
I provided my readers with my opinion of the State’s case and why I felt that it was meritless and I provided my own laymen’s legal opinion of why I felt as such. Like, I previously stated the mere fact that Lionel is her brother is not sufficient to make Sylvia legally responsible to declare the information. She would have had to have knowledge that Lionel would receive a “special gain” from the transaction being presented to the Commission. So far, the State has only insisted that Poitier would have done anything to ensure that the WDBA would survive so that they could repay the loan to her brother. The States case is based solely on this assertion, which all of the States witnesses have testified was never a priority or even considered by the group. Poitier herself has even testified that it was never a consideration and Lionel Ferguson testified and the State has confirmed that there has never been an attempt made to collect the debt. The WDBA witnesses have all indicated that their sole reasoning for requesting the funds was to cure the arrears on their utility bills which they owed directly to the City of Deerfield Beach and the mortgages to Suntrust and Wells Fargo. At no point, has the State indicated or proved that the group, Sylvia, or Lionel or anyone else for that matter attempted to utilize the funds or the transactions in question to repay the loan to Sylvia’s brother, Lionel. So, I still feel as I did back in April 2011 when I originally wrote that post and I have not heard any argument presented by the State that has changed my mind on that. My only hope is that the jurors see that as well and do not convict Poitier based on unfounded conjecture and rumor that as Broward County residents we have been inundated with since she left the County back in 1998 and for years before that. The State has proved that Sylvia Poitier, unlike many other politicians especially those in Deerfield Beach, cared enough for the low income residents of her district to fight tooth and nail to ensure that they had a roof over their heads and the basic necessities of life…Water.
The jurors and many others now have to ask themselves should that be a punishable crime…???
We shall find out tomorrow what they have decided.