R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office (“FBI”), and Luis O. Rivera, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (“IRS”), announced that defendant, Anthony R. Masilotti, 50, of Wellington, Florida, has pled guilty to his involvement in a public corruption conspiracy stemming from Masilotti’s unlawful use of his official position as an elected county commissioner to promote and conceal Masilotti’s and other individuals’ significant financial ventures. As part of his plea agreement, Masilotti has also agreed to forfeit two parcels of real estate worth approximately $9 million and $175,000 in cash. Masilotti faces a maximum period of five years’ incarceration and a $250,000 fine, in addition to the criminal forfeitures.
At today’s hearing, Masilotti admitted to misusing his elected position as a Commissioner on the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners (“BCC”) to personally enrich himself, his family, and his secret business partners in a series of land deals in Palm Beach, Martin and Brevard Counties, and through his financial relationship with a developer. Masilotti advocated and voted on these matters without disclosing to the BCC and the public his secret financial interest in the transactions, which ultimately netted him millions of dollars. Masilotti admitted to his secret involvement in three separate real estate transactions and his acceptance of significant gratuities from Bruce A. Rendina, the former president of the Rendina Companies, a significant commercial developer in Palm Beach County.
Masilotti also admitted to his secret participation in a Martin County land deal, known as Nine Gems, which involved the sale of tract of land to the South Florida Water Management District (“SFWMD”), a state agency whose mission is to help protect and manage the region’s water supply. In this transaction, Masilotti misused his official position to advocate and publicly endorse the SFWMD’s purchase of the Nine Gems parcel without disclosing his ownership interest in the property to Martin County officials, the SFWMD, the BCC or the public. To hide his ownership interest in the Nine Gems property, Masilotti utilized attorney William R. Boose, III to create a secret land trust to purchase the property. After a complicated series of transactions, during which the SFWMD was deceived as to the true sellers of the property, Masilotti profited $1.7 million from the Nine Gems sale to the SFWMD. Masilotti has agreed to forfeit the remaining 40 acres he owns from this transaction to the government, and $175,000 in cash. In a separate agreement, Masilotti’s ex-wife Susan L. Masilotti has forfeited an additional $400,000 to the United States from this transaction.
Masilotti also admitted that he was secretly involved in another land deal involving an option to purchase 60 acres within a 1,200 acre tract of land located in Palm Beach County owned by Palm Beach Aggregates. In that deal, Masilotti and his brother, Paul Masilotti, created another trust, called the ARM Family Land Trust, to purchase the option for $100,000. The Masilotti brothers split the $100,000 cost of this contract. Masilotti again misused his official position to vote for a controversial Florida Power and Light plant on the Aggregates property, as well as significant zoning and land use changes on that property without ever disclosing to the public his personal financial stake in the property. After the zoning changes made the land extremely valuable to residential developer Lennar Homes, Masilotti parlayed their $100,000 investment into a swap of his option for beneficial and anonymous control of a 300 acre piece of property in Brevard County worth $8 million. Masilotti and Masilotti’s brother have both agreed to forfeit their interest in this property to the United States.
A third real estate deal from which Masilotti admitted to secretly profiting involved the sale of a 50-acre parcel of land in Royal Palm Beach belonging to the Diocese of Palm Beach. Masilotti, who had an undisclosed interest with Daniel N. Miteff in this property, attended numerous meetings in his official capacity with the Diocese, Royal Palm Beach officials, and Palm Beach County officials, and advocated the sale of the property to Miteff. Masilotti also agreed to help Miteff and others in achieving the necessary traffic concurrency to make the land attractive to residential developer GL Homes. At these meetings, Masilotti concealed his true financial interest in the transaction. Masilotti has confessed that he flew to Nassau, Bahamas in February 2004 to receive a payoff from Miteff which was accomplished by giving Masilotti gaming chips at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino.
Finally, Masilotti, his family and friends received substantial free air travel, valued at nearly $100,000, from former developer Bruce A. Rendina. During the time he was receiving these gifts, Masilotti voted to approve the sale of county-owned real property, known as the “Posse Property,” to a group headed by Rendina and did not disclose to the BCC and the public that he had received substantial gifts from Rendina.
U.S. Attorney Acosta stated, “Fighting public corruption is one of our most important missions. As chairman of the Palm Beach County Commission, Masilotti took an oath to represent the best interests of his constituents. Instead, Masilotti repeatedly misused his power and his office for personal gain. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, with the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, will aggressively investigate and prosecute corruption at all levels of government to help ensure that the citizens of South Florida receive the honest services of their elected officials.”
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the IRS and FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John Kastrenakes, Stephen Carlton, and Antonia Barnes.
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 www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.