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Corruption trial begins for former Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper

Defense attorney says state's star witness not credible

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – An FBI agent was the first to testify Tuesday in the corruption trial of former Hallandale Beach mayor Joy Cooper.

Cooper was arrested in January 2018 after a six-year FBI investigation. According to the Broward County state attorney's office, FBI agents posing as wealthy land developers met with Cooper, former attorney Alan Koslow and other undercover agents posing as business owners over the course of several months to discuss a business project in the city.

One of those agents, who did not want to be identified on camera, listened in court to secretly recorded audio, of which he was aware, but Cooper was not, when the two discussed the development deals.

Investigators said Cooper solicited campaign contributions for herself and others that exceeded the legal limit and falsely reported the contributions in campaign reports. Investigators said Cooper also solicited contributions in the amount of $1,500 each for then-Commissioners Bill Julian and Anthony Sanders.

"This case is about the six times the defendant spoke to an undercover agent about illegal campaign contributions, as well as the $5,000 illegal campaign contribution she accepted from an undercover agent," prosecutor Catherine Maus told the jury.

Cooper's attorney, Larry Davis, questioned the credibility of the prosecution's star witness, Koslow.

"He's not a credible witness," Davis said. "You will see his testimony is full of inconsistencies. It's full of memory gaps. You'll hear that he's a convicted felon. He got kicked out of the Florida Bar."

Davis said it was Koslow who concocted the scheme to get money from the developers and funnel it into Cooper's election campaign, a scheme her attorney said she knew nothing about.

Koslow did not take the stand Tuesday, even though he was instructed to appear. He will, most likely, be the first person called when the trial resumes Wednesday morning. Koslow has already been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for money laundering.

Cooper maintains her innocence. She faces third-degree felony charges of official misconduct and exceeding limits on campaign contributions. Prosecutors dropped a third-degree money laundering charge in August.

She is also charged with a first-degree misdemeanor of soliciting contributions in a government building.