Jury acquits Atkins-Grad on all counts

Former Tamarac commissioner Patricia Atkins-Grad not guilty of accepting bribes

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Broward County jury acquitted a former Tamarac city commissioner who was accused of accepting bribes from two real estate developers in exchange for her vote on a housing project.

Patricia Atkins-Grad was charged with six felony counts, including bribery, conspiracy, official misconduct, and unlawful compensation. A jury issued its not guilty verdict on all six counts a few hours after beginning deliberations.

"This case is about, ladies and gentlemen, greed," prosecutor Deborah Zimet told jurors during closing arguments Tuesday.

Last week, convicted real estate developers Bruce and Shawn Chait testified that they paid $6,300 in exchange for her vote. The pair was seeking city approval to develop two golf courses in Tamarac between 2005 and 2010. Atkins-Grad declined to testify Monday.

"Whether she was for the project or not is irrelevant," said Zimet. "This was a commitment that she had made at Norman's house to do what they, Bruce and Shawn, wanted. It was a commitment. It wasn't just a friendship."

Defense attorney Ken Malnik argued that the Chaits only testified to avoid prison time.

"Shawn Chait lies," said Malnik.

He added Atkins-Grad was politically naive and manipulated by the Chaits.

"There's a quantum leap between being unqualified and being corrupt and the state has to prove corrupt intent beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt," said Malnik.

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