Sheila Alu resigning Sunrise office

Published On: Oct 19 2012 04:56:45 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 19 2012 07:41:15 PM EDT

Sunrise Commissioner Sheila Alu, who had two years left in her third term in office, submitted this letter to her city today. A new grandmother, Alu says she wants to devote her time day job as a sex crimes prosecutor at the State Attorney's Office.

"My passion is now with prosecuting cases," she told me. "I believe the residents deserve someone who can dedicate all their time to the city."

In a sense, it just means that Alu will become a full-time crime fighter after a political career dominated by fighting political corruption. She made headlines when it was learned that she had spent years working undercover for the FBI in a major corruption investigation that netted several arrests, including then-School Board Member Beverly Gallagher, who was released from prison to a halfway house last month.

Alu also was the star witness in a case that led to the ouster of one-time Broward Chief Criminal Judge Ana Gardiner, who had improper communications with then-homicide prosecutor Howard Scheinberg during a death penalty homicide trial.

She also played a leading role in stopping a huge retail and office development on the edge of the Everglades and was integral in keeping a controversial garbage transfer station from being built in her city. 

On the county stage she was controversial, but in her city she was extremely popular, winning office by huge margins. Her political career began with a tragedy -- an explosion in Plantation that seriously injured her longtime ex-husband Joe Alu, who went on to become a bodyguard for Kim Rothstein, the criminally charged wife of imprisoned Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein. She pushed for legislation protecting benefits for law enforcement officers. 

"There are challenging times ahead and great times to come!" she wrote in her resignation letter. "My heart will always belong to this city."