OK, so there's scuttlebutt out there on JAABlog about Judge Steven Feren, the former mayor of Sunrise, having hired local corruption attorney David Bogenschutz to represent him.
|Will the Tao high-rise be the downfall of Judge Feren? |
So why did Feren hire the go-to guy for for politicians in trouble with the law? Well, the truth is that rumors of a criminal investigation have been floating around Sunrise for many months.
There's only one indication of what it may be about. Two years ago, I reported here about Feren's involvement with the Tao high-rise condo in his former city. As mayor, Feren not only backed the building of Tao but voted for the project's approval more than once. At the same time that he cheered for the ill-conceived project, Feren put down a monetary deposit on a unit for himself.
So long as Feren didn't get a special deal on that unit, and I have no information that he did, that's almost surely legal. The problem came when the economy busted.
The bottom fell out of the real estate market, and with it the value of the Tao condos plummeted. The project went into foreclosure and was turned over to the lender. Naturally, just about everyone who put down a deposit wanted out of Tao immediately. But they were out of luck -- the deposits were not returned.
Not returned to anyone but the mayor of Sunrise, that is. Steve Feren was mysteriously returned his deposit. We know this because his current wife boasted about getting the deposit back at a City Hall meeting.
That was just before he left the mayoral position to take his judgeship in 2008.
I reported all that at the time. The key question: Did Feren use the power of his office in any way to get his money back while all the little people got
Let's say a cop walks into a store and demands that he receive free or discounted goods because he's a police officer who protects the store and therefore deserves it. That, of course, is against the law.
If a mayor tries to get a special favor from anyone and so much as mentions that, hey, I happen to be the mayor of this town, it's a violation of law. People simply cannot use their government positions to obtain favors. If politicians and other public officials were allowed to do such things, well, you can imagine how bad that would be. It's bad enough now when it's outlawed.
Did Feren use his position to get the deposit back from Tao? We don't know, but his hiring of Bogenshutz is not a good sign for him. Hopefully we'll be able to answer that question in full soon.
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