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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A local congresswoman shares her thoughts about a former Miami-Dade County commissioner found murdered in his Georgia home.

Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner James Burke, convicted on corruption charges in 1999, was shot dead police say by his wife in their Waycross, Georgia home Saturday afternoon.

Sonia Burke, 58, married to the disgraced former commissioner for less than two years, called 911 Saturday afternoon.  Police found Burke shot dead in his bedroom.  His wife was charged with Murder and is being held in the Ware County jail.

Burke was married seven times.

He served 21 months in federal prison after his conviction on bribery charges in 1999.  Investigators captured him on video tape accepting a wad of cash from an undercover informant.  Burke was to receive more than $100,000 for steering a county bond sale to a California company.

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, then a school board member, worked closely with Burke when he was in the legislature and on the county commission.  She said he was a loyal champion of childrens’ causes.  Burke was the first African-American speaker pro tempore of the Florida House.

“Commissioner Burke left a legend for all of us to follow, so we are standing on his shoulders,” Wilson said.

As for his corruption conviction, Wilson said it was a “blemish” on a stellar career.

“I think it was a dark moment for all of Miami- Dade County,” Wilson said. “I don’t think that should overshadow all of the contributions he made to this community.”

Attorney Ed Shohat represented Burke in his corruption trial.

“I’m shocked to hear that James Burke has been apparently murdered under awful circumstances by his wife,” Shohat said.

Shohat said Burke was remorseful following his sentencing and apologized.

“Jim felt awful for the things he did that got him in trouble.  He wanted to make amends for those things,” Shohat said.

Waycross police have not elaborated on Burke’s fatal shooting, other than saying it was the result of a domestic dispute.


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