Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper walks out of jail

Mayor faces 3 felony charges after undercover FBI investigation

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Janine Stanwood - Anchor/Reporter, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper walked out of jail Thursday night after she was arrested on three felony charges.

The city's first elected mayor held her husband's hand as she walked out of jail without answering any questions from reporters.

Cooper surrendered hours earlier on charges of money laundering, official misconduct and exceeding limits on campaign contributions, all of which are third-degree felonies. She is also charged with soliciting contributions in a government building, which is a first-degree misdemeanor.

"We're all very surprised at City Hall," Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow said. "It's a sad day for the city." 

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.

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.

Authorities said all of the meetings were secretly recorded.

Cooper's attorney, Larry Davis, said he is "extremely disappointed in the state attorney's office relying on a convicted, disbarred and disgraced former attorney, Alan Koslow, to be the center of their case."

Koslow was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for money laundering. He refused to say whether he was cooperating with the federal government when he spoke to Local 10 News investigative reporter Bob Norman in June 2016.

In November, Cooper slurred her words and rambled on the dais during a commission meeting. When commissioners asked her to leave, she refused. Her husband arrived to take her home and was recorded challenging Vice Mayor Keith London to a fight in the parking lot.

Although Cooper had no comment as she left jail, she released a statement saying that she was going to "vigorously fight these allegations in court."

READ: Full statements from Mayor Joy Cooper, attorney Larry Davis

Gov. Rick Scott has yet to announce his decision about whether or not she can continue to serve as mayor. 

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