Former City of Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman has been found guilty by a jury of two felony counts of illegal compensation and one misdemeanor of illegal lobbying. State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle says the verdict shows citizens are fed up with corruption in local politics. "Today, Dade County jurors once again confirmed that, as a community, we will not tolerate public corruption. After listening to a week of testimony, these citizens quickly came to the conclusion that the law was broken," said Fernandez Rundle. "As I have said before, we can win the fight against corruption, but it takes a partnership between committed citizens and law enforcement to get the job done. This case had exactly that partnership."
Bateman was arrested on charges related to a consulting job for Community Health, an organization who wanted to build a Children's Crisis Center in downtown Homestead.
CHI was paying Bateman $125 an hour as a consultant.
Bateman was accused of unregistered lobbying after meeting with Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to push for the approval of a new water and sewage pump station, an item vital to the construction of CHI's proposed center.
After only a week-long trial, Bateman was found guilty on two charges of illegal compensation after a short jury deliberation.
Judge Robert Luck, presiding over the case, would not adjudicate the guilty verdict right away, however, due to "substantial issues" raised by the defense in their motion to dismiss the case.
Bateman will not be taken into custody right away or officially pronounced guilty.
"I think they got it wrong," said Bateman after the case. "I don't know where it went wrong with the felonies."
Should Judge Luck allow the verdict to stand, Bateman will be sentenced in the next several weeks.
Such a sentence could include up to 15 years in prison for each felony conviction.
"The jury has spoken. They made it clear, they are not in favor of public corruption," said Miami-Dade prosecutor Isis Perez after the verdict. "This needs to stop."
Stay tuned for more details as they are made available as they become available.