2nd developer testifies in corruption trial

Shawn Chait testifies against Patricia Atkins-Grad

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Another convicted real estate developer testified Thursday in the case against Patricia Atkins-Grad, who is accused of selling her vote to him and his father.

"Did you want to make sure that she was happy?" asked prosecutor Deborah Zimet.

"Yes," replied Shawn Chait who, along with his father Bruce Chait, are the star witnesses in the public corruption case.

Atkins-Grad is charged with unlawful compensation, bribery and official misconduct in connection with the Chaits, who were seeking city approval to develop two golf courses in Tamarac between 2005 and 2010.

Chait, whose father testified on Wednesday, said he had one goal when he befriend Atkins-Grad in 2005: to get her elected to the Tamarac City Commission, and then buy her vote on a housing project on which he and his father stood to make millions.

Chait testified Thursday that he got both after giving Atkins-Grad thousands of dollars for her campaign, the victory party after she won, and a down payment on a new car after she voted to approve their development deal.

"She said, 'I can't afford the lease payment.' I said call Darren (the care salesman) and I'll take care of the down payment," said Chait.

Atkins-Grad is only one of several Broward County politicians accused of taking money from the Chait's.

  • Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion served more than two years in prison after he was convicted of taking cash and a golf club membership from the Chaits.
  • Suspended Broward Public Schools Board member Stephanie Kraft is accused of accepting $10,000 for pushing district staffers to give the Chaits $500,000 in development fees. She is awaiting trial.
  • Former Tamarac Commissioner Marc Sultanoff was charged with taking $30,000 for his yes vote on the project. He died before his trial.
  • Current Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco is accused of accepting $21,000 in campaign funds from the Chaits. But a judge threw out the case and she has since been reinstated.
  • Current Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter is reportedly under investigation for accepting a golf cart from the Chaits. No charges have been filed.

"You couldn't be charged with anything as long as you were telling the truth, correct?" asked defense attorney Kenneth Malnick.

"Correct," replied Chait.

Defense attorneys say Atkins Grad was politically naive and manipulated by the Chaits, who avoided prison time by testifying.

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.

Testimony resumes Monday.

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