LAWFUEL – Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that West Palm Beach City Commissioner Raymond A. Liberti was sentenced by United States District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas to 18 months’ in federal prison today in connection with Liberti’s fraud and corruption while a City of West Palm Beach Commissioner. After being sentenced, Mr. Liberti was remanded into custody of the United States Marshal.
Liberti was sentenced for convictions for two counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, and one count of obstruction of justice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(b)(3).
According to the statements of the federal prosecutors and the admissions made by Liberti in court, Liberti misused his official position as a City Commissioner to manipulate City of West Palm Beach police officers, code enforcement, county commissioners, and health department officials into action that would adversely affect the sales price of two separate businesses in the City of West Palm Beach. The two business were Relax With Us and Club Nessum Dorma.
In April 2005, an individual approached Commissioner Liberti regarding purchasing Relax With Us, a local massage parlor. The individual complained to Liberti that the purchase price was too high, and asked Commissioner Liberti for help “clos[ing] down” the massage parlor in order to reduce the selling price. Commissioner Liberti indicated that he would “do his homework.”
Within a month, Relax With Us was the subject of a surprise inspection by West Palm Beach code officials. Commissioner Liberti later told the individual, “That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”
In June 2005, Relax With Us was again the subject of another unannounced inspection by code officials. Commissioner Liberti later told the individual that Relax With Us was “going to have a nightmare” and that he could drive the price further down.
Commissioner Liberti later instructed a deputy chief of the West Palm Beach Police Department to conduct an undercover inspection of Relax With Us. In addition, Commissioner Liberti subsequently called a County Commissioner and falsely reported that he had received a number complaints concerning Relax With Us and asked the County Commissioner to send the county health department to inspect the business.
Commissioner Liberti took similar actions in an attempt to drive down the price of another establishment, Club Nessum Dorma. To this end, he falsely told code officials that he had received citizen complaints and requested code enforcement. He then indicated to the individual that he would “keep the pressure” on the code enforcement officials to enforce a $500 per day fine against Club Nessum Dorma.
Through this course of dealings, Commissioner Liberti selected, and later received, a $2,000 Tag Heurer watch, a payment of $5,000, a second payment of $5000 and a final payment of $56,000.
The second $5,000 payment occurred just after Liberti finished with a city commission meeting in November 2005.
Liberti was also sentenced for his obstruction of justice when, faced with the possibility of an investigation into his illicit conduct, he encouraged the undercover agent, posing as one of the alleged prospective buyers, to lie to investigators by denying he knew Liberti and falsely stating that only code enforcement officials involved with Relax With Us.
Mr. Acosta commended the long-term investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In addition, Mr. Acosta thanked the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, who assisted in this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John S. Kastrenakes and Bruce E. Reinhart of the West Palm Beach Office.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov/ .