The Mendelsohn Takedown, Updated
Will we ever unravel the secrets of Steinger (left)?
But here's one answer: What happened to the $150,000?
Just to get it straight, Mutual Benefits' Joel Steinger paid Mendelsohn hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to sway GOP officials like Charlie Crist -- a close ally of Mendelsohn's prior to his arrest -- to halt a fraud investigation. In six months time ending in April 2004, Steinger, working closely with his lobbyist, Russell Klenet, poured at least $1,665,000 into state politics via Mendelsohn, according to the indictment. Mendelsohn allegedly claimed the cash helped persuade Crist to kill the
state investigation, but the FBI says no such deal was consummated.
Steinger also wanted Mendelsohn to use his political cache to kill the federal investigation. But what Mendelsohn didn't know was that Steinger, facing criminal charges for alleged massive fraud involving Mutual Benefits, began cooperating with the FBI. His conversations and Mendelsohn were recorded, the indictment indicates.
One of those recorded meetings occurred on May 26, 2007, according to the indictment:
Mendelsohn met with [Steinger] to receive the first payment of $150,000 in contributions in exchange for the agreement to close the federal investigation. Mendelsohn falsely provided a detailed update on the progress allegedly being made by the senior government officials' purported 'two-pronged approach' to closing the federal investigation.
Okay, so Steinger delivered $150,000 while he was working for the FBI. That was probably the feds that put up the bait money. A source says it was supposed to be placed in a state senate campaign, but it never made it there, according to a source.
On that day, the feds busted Mendelsohn and took possession of the check. From there Mendelsohn began cooperating with the feds, making a call to his chief contact, now-U.S. Senator George LeMiuex, a go-between for Charlie Crist. During the call, LeMieux didn't bite and the FBI decided that Mendelsohn was lying -- that he never had a deal with Crist at all.