Feds, state investigating $50,000 payment to politician from NFL legend


State Rep. Hazelle Rogers (D-Lauderdale Lakes) is under criminal investigation for a $50,000 payment she received from a construction contractor, the State Attorney's Office confirmed today.

The 2007 payment came from politically connected Dwight Stephenson, who owns a construction company that has done tens of millions of dollars worth of work for governments. Records indicate that Rogers -- then a Lauderdale Lakes commissioner -- voted to give Stephenson's firm a $7 million Broward County library contract in the same time period.

During the May 15, 2007 meeting of the city's Community Redevelopment Agency, Rogers initially noted that she had a relationship with Stephenson and "would like to present the conflict of interest," according to minutes. But city records show she never filed a required written conflict disclosure form, and those same minutes indicate that she was part of a unanimous voice vote.

Two Broward politicians -- Hollywood Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom and Pompano Beach Commissioner Sylvia Poitier -- have been charged criminally and convicted for failing to properly disclose conflicts of interests in office.  

Stephenson is best known for his exploits on the football field, where he is considered by many to be the best center of all time. During the 80s, the snapped the ball to fellow Hall of Famer Dan Marino. When asked about the payment, Stephenson shook his head and said, "No comment." Rogers, who is in Tallahassee this week, was also evasive.

The investigation originated during the FBI's undercover sting that led to the arrest of two of Rogers' closest political allies, Broward County Commissioner Joe Eggelletion and Miramar Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman.

Sources close to the investigation say that the $50,000 was allegedly paid by Stephenson to Rogers for lobbying for him in Miramar, where Salesman was serving at the time and were Stephenson won millions in public construction contracts.

Salesman is now serving a 51-month prison sentence after being convict Federal prosecutors subpoenaed city records on Rogers' votes earlier this year. The State Attorney's Office confirmed that it is now the lead agency in the investigation.