Jury: Spence Jones Not Guilty Of Bribery, Grand Theft

MIAMI (CBS4) – Less than an hour and a half of deliberations, a jury has ruled that former Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones was not guilty of bribery or grand theft.

“The truth finally comes out. You know that you never did anything wrong,” said Spence-Jones after walking out of the courtroom singing the Gospel hymn “Victory today is mine.”

On Wednesday both the prosecution and defense presented their closing statements and the jury begain their deliberations just after 2:30 p.m.

Spence-Jones was accused of soliciting bribes in the form of charitable donations from two developers who had business pending before the Miami commission.

On Tuesday, the state wrapped up their case and Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Rosa Rodriguez appeared somewhat skeptical of the prosecution’s claims.

“I’m finding it difficult to understand the state’s theory in all this. What was the corrupt intent? I want to know that,” said Judge Rodriguez. “Ultimately, the money, whether her fingerprints are there or not, the money did not go to her personally.”

Last week, prominent Miami developer Armando Codina took the stand to answer questions about his donation.

Prosecutors claim that at the request of the former commission’s office, Codina made a $12,500 donation to the Friends of MLK Trust, which Spence-Jones ran from her office. The money was reportedly to be used for an event honoring former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler. Investigators said they found that the money never went to the Carey-Shuler event and the Trust wasn’t established until months later.

Codina said that after he looked into the Spence-Jones charity and was convinced the money wasn’t going “in her own pocket” he called a partner in the Brickell project, Richard Glas, and suggested he might want to make a matching contribution as well.

Codina testified that never paid a bribe, and the donation was one he would have given anyway.

Spence-Jones is also facing a separate 2009 grand theft charge for allegedly steering $50,000 in county grant money to a family-run business, before her elected tenure in office. She’s pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle released this statement late Wednesday:

“In this case, the jury had no choice but to acquit the defendant because the judge instructed the jury that, in effect, soliciting or accepting a bribe through a charity is legal, even if done with corrupt intent. We disagree with the judge’s interpretation of the bribery law. Bribery has become very sophisticated in our community. We believe that bribery done to influence a public official, even if done through a charity, is illegal. We will continue to investigate, prosecute, and enforce our bribery law,” said Fernandez Rundle.

More from Gary Nelson
Comments

One Comment

  1. Slick Willie says:

    That would be the former Codina-Bush
    It figures…………………………………………..

  2. The Mentalist says:

    Spence-Jones is also facing a separate 2009 grand theft charge for allegedly steering $50,000 in county grant money to a family-run business, before her elected tenure in office. She’s pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

    Want to predict the outcome?

  3. King Ralph says:

    What, no white people on the jury?

    1. Everett Hill says:

      Some…but no racists.

  4. KASEY ELLEB says:

    CAN MICHELLE-SPENCE JONES SUE THE STATE ALSO WHEN ARE WE THE PEOPLE; GOING TO GET RID OF CATHERINE FERNANDEZ RUNDLE. LEAVE IT TO STATE TO COME UP WITH A BOGUS CASE. THE STATE ATTORNEY OFFICE NEEDS TO GET THESE PARENTS WHO ARE ABUSING THEIR KIDS EVEN MURDERING THEM . MAKING FALSE CASES AND USING TAX PAPERS MONEY

    1. Marie Roberts says:

      Yes she can sue the state and if I were her I would.

  5. KASEY ELLEB says:

    THE STATE NEEDS TO FIX DCF PROBLEMS AND SAVE OUR KIDS

  6. B-Easy says:

    Hooray for Spence-Jones….two victories in a week…first the recall now this…it must truly be black justice week

  7. RG says:

    RG
    Race prevailed…….

    1. Marie Roberts says:

      The amount of racists in this community is staggering and saddening.

  8. Everett Hill says:

    What a community! Just don’t get it!

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