HALLANDALE BEACH (CBSMiami) – The Mayor of Hallandale Beach, a fixture of local politics for nearly 20 years, is facing corruption charges.
Mayor Joy Cooper turned herself in to the Broward Jail Thursday morning.
She is charged with three third degree felonies that include money laundering, official misconduct, exceeding limits on campaign contributions, and one misdemeanor: a charge of soliciting contributions in a government building.
According to the Broward State Attorney’s Office, the charges stem from an undercover FBI investigation.
A source close to the case says the allegation is that in 2012 Mayor Joy Cooper along with an attorney and lobbyist met with undercover agents posing as wealthy land developers who wanted to bring a business project to the city.
During those meetings, the source says Cooper is alleged to have solicited campaign contributions that exceeded legal limits for herself and others and then falsely reported those contributions.
An attorney for Cooper, Larry Davis, says she’s done nothing wrong.
“She never accepted any money (or) anything that went into her pocket,” Davis told reporters. “She never accepted a campaign contribution for any quid pro quo for any developer, anyone in her 20 years of public life.”
Davis says the state’s case relies on the word of a man named Alan Koslow, a former attorney and lobbyist who pleaded guilty in 2016 to federal charges of money laundering, “from illegal gambling proceeds and from sales of narcotics and counterfeit Viagra.”
A source says Koslow is the attorney who met undercover agents with Cooper in 2012 that are the basis for these criminal charges.
“We’re very disappointed that the State Attorney’s Office would use someone like Alan Koslow, who’s a convicted felon, disbarred lawyer, disgraced lawyer to be the center point, centerpiece of their investigation,” Davis said.
Fellow city commissioners say they were caught off guard by the news.
“We were saddened and surprised to hear about this. It puts a dark cloud over our city and not the kind of press we were looking for,” said Commissioner Michele Lazarow.
Cooper has presided over raucous city commission meetings recently, often at odds with other commissioners.
The mayor recently defended herself against accusations she was drunk.
Cooper said she was recovering from Montezuma’s revenge after returning from a trip.
After her arrest Cooper, issued a statement that reads in part, “I have dedicated my time and energy to focus on performing all my duties with utmost integrity. I can assure you I will vigorously fight these allegations in court.