State criminally investigating Hallandale Beach political spying case

Politicians say they discovered illegal tracking devices attached to their cars

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has begun a criminal investigation into allegations that tracking devices were unlawfully installed on the personal vehicles of two Hallandale Beach commissioners and one candidate for office -- in what those politicians claim is part of a spying campaign initiated against them by political enemies.

The devices were allegedly placed under the vehicles of Commissioners Keith London and Michelle Lazarow as well as candidate Annabelle Taub.

Florida law makes it a second-degree misdemeanor to install such devices on other people’s vehicles, with the exception of law enforcement officers with court orders.

London, Lazarow and Taub said they have been followed by private investigators as well, with London claiming he caught the private investigator on cell phone video in the act of spying on him.

In the video, the man walks over to London while he’s filming and when London says it appears the man is following him, the man denies it before walking away. But a check of the tag on the man’s vehicle revealed that he is Victor Elbeze, who is indeed a private investigator.

There is no evidence that Elbeze was hired to track London and when reached on the telephone Elbeze denied that he was following London or had been hired to do so. A man who identified himself as Ebeze’s boss, Steve Cohen, further denied that Elbeze was involved with the City Commission in any way.

"I’m furious," said Lazarow. "To me, it reeks of desperation, political desperation."

Taub, who is unmarried, said it makes her concerned for her security. The commissioners have publicly accused Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper of being involved in the espionage, but Cooper, when reached on the phone, said she had nothing to with it.

"I don’t the money or the time to waste on such things," Cooper said.

Phone calls to Vice Mayor Bill Julian, who is running against Taub, and Alexander Lewy, Lazarow’s opponent, went unanswered today.

Now there is a criminal investigation underway to try to determine exactly who is responsible for the tracking devices.

London filed a criminal complaint with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Friday and left all three tracking devices with special agents. Experts say the devices can be traced to their source, something London said he hopes will solve the mystery and put an end to the alleged spying.

“It has become pathetic that the opposition can’t stand on a record,” said London, “and all they are trying to do is play dirty politics.”