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NORTH MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — A North Miami Beach Commissioner turned himself in to authorities Wednesday on bribery charges.
A bribe from a strip club operator is what led to the charges against Frantz Pierre, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
“Nothing infuriates the public more than learning there is evidence that someone who was elected was turned his position into a way to put money into his own pocket,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle at an afternoon news conference.
Frantz Pierre is accused of bribery, unlawful compensation, organized scheme to defraud and grand theft plus seven counts of money laundering.
It all revolves around a series of payments, checks sent to Pierre by Dean Tyler, the owner of Dean’s Gold strip club in North Miami. The club wanted to insure it could operate extended hours and serve alcohol after-hours.
“After Pierre began to receive the money from Tyler, he consistently voted in favor of approving the 4am to 6am license for Dean’s Gold, that he needed,” explained Fernandez-Rundle.
Prior to the payments, Pierre had been opposed to the extended hours and voted against it in earlier votes.
Prosecutors even had a screenshot of a text message from the strip club operator to Pierre that read, “I just put a check for 7-thousand in the mail. It will go out tomorrow.” Pierre responds, “thank you so much. That will not be forgotten.”
“The charges brought by the State Attorney’s office against Commissioner Pierre are disturbing and upsetting but they concern Commissioner Pierre and Commissioner Pierre only,” said North Miami Beach Mayor Beth Spiegel. “Commissioner Pierre will deal with that in court.”
Pierre is a school teacher, a member of the teacher’s union and a mentor for the 5000 Role Models of Excellence.
His bond was set at $35,000.
Pierre was removed from office in January after failing to attend commission meetings for six months. Pierre said it was due to a medical condition. City charter says an elected official must attend at least one meeting every four months or can be removed from office. The city attorney said Pierre mostly phoned in his votes. He was reinstated to the commission in May pending a court decision on wrongful removal from office.
Then in May, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust found the commissioner guilty of trying to intimidate a female compliance officer by threatening her job if she failed to ignore code violations at his North Miami Beach home. He was issued a $1,000 fine —the largest fine possible — a letter of reprimand and ordered to pay back $500 of costs incurred in the case.