Former commissioner doesn't take stand in trial

Patricia Atkins-Grad faces up to 15 years in prison

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A former Tamarac city commissioner accused of accepting bribes from two real estate developers in exchange for her vote on a housing project declined to take the stand during her trial.

"I can't. I cannot. I'm afraid my stroke will affect too many of my things," Patricia Atkins-Grad told the judge Monday.

Defense attorneys rested their case Monday. Last week, convicted real estate developers Bruce and Shawn Chait testified that they paid Atkin-Grad's BMW lease and a $4,000 party bill in exchange for her vote. The pair was seeking city approval to develop two golf courses in Tamarac between 2005 and 2010.

Atkins-Grad is charged with six felony counts, including bribery, conspiracy, official misconduct, and unlawful compensation.

"This case involves around the corrupt intent and I would submit that there's ample evidence," said prosecutor Deborah Zimet. "Her failure to file notices of conflict, failure to file notices of gifts, but at that point in time, she was already committed to doing whatever it takes."

"Mr. Chait called her dumber than a rock, and Shawn also pretty much downgraded her intelligence," said defense attorney Ken Malnick.

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

But Zimer said Atkins-Grad knew what she was doing.

"She has to be deaf, dumb, and blind to ignore a contract that she is about to sign," said Zimet. "She just drove off the floor and ended up with her new car."

Earlier this month, 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.

Closing arguments are expected Tuesday.

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