Developer testifies in corruption trial
Patricia Atkins-Grad faces up to 15 years in prison
A convicted real estate developer testified Wednesday in the corruption case against a former Tamarac city commissioner accused of selling her vote to him.
Bruce Chait testified Wednesday against Patricia Atkins-Grad. She is charged with six felony counts, including bribery, conspiracy, official misconduct, and unlawful compensation.
"I wanted her vote on the city council, so whatever it took to get her elected -- blood, sweat, and tears -- we were going to get it done," said Chait.
During opening arguments Tuesday, prosecutors alleged that Atkins-Grad sold her vote to Chait and his son Shawn. Both avoided prison time by agreeing to testify against her.
Chait needed city approval to build a housing development on two golf courses, and said Atkins-Grad was handpicked by former Tamarac Mayor Norman Abramowitz to run for an open commission seat. Chait said that Abramowitz made it clear who she would answer to if she won.
"And, he said when you get drafted for a team, whenever I would call her or Shawn would call her, the answer would always be yes," said Chait.
"What did Mrs. Atkins-Grad, the defendant, say?" asked a prosecutor.
"Absolutely. No problems," said Chait.
Chait admitted to illegally bankrolling Atkin-Grad's campaign by reimbursing his employees and friends who he persuaded to make campaign contributions.
"Who actually made that contribution?" asked a prosecutor.
"I did. I reimbursed Kim $500," answered Chait.
Prosecutors said Chait spent more than $4,000 on a victory party for Atkins-Grad when she won and paid her campaign manager $15,000. After she voted to approve the real estate deal a year later, Chait paid a $2,300 down payment on a new BMW that she leased.
"She took me, turned me around and we both walked out to the parking lot together and she showed me her new car," said Chait. ."She gave me a big hug and a big kiss and she says, 'Oh, I really want to thank you for the car because without you, it wouldn't have been possible.'"
Defense attorneys argued that Atkins-Grad was politically naive when she befriended the Chaits and wasn't aware that they paid for the victory party. During cross examination, Chait said he thought Atkins-Grad was "dumb as a box of rocks."
Shawn Chait is expected to testify Thursday.
Last week, Atkins-Grad turned down a plea deal that would have sentenced her to prison for two years. She faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
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