Jury Acquits Atkins-Grad: Is She Competent to be a Commissioner?

 

Soon, Patte Atkins-Grad could be sitting back on the the Tamarac City Commission. However, issues that were raised in court may affect her decision-making skills.

By:  Patti Lynn

This is final story in a series of reports from Patti Lynn who covered the trial of Patte Atkins-Grad, the suspended Tamarac City Commissioner who was charged with eight felony charges for allegedly taking cash or gifts from father and son developers Bruce and Shawn Chait. Lynn ran against Atkins-Grad two times for the City Commission seat.

Atkins-Grad was arrested as a Commissioner back in 2010 because she failed to disclose payments for a $2,300 BMW lease and $4,000 for her victory party back in 2006 for her election as state law required.  She was charged with two counts each of bribery and unlawful compensation, three counts of official misconduct and one count of conspiracy to commit unlawful compensation.

Day 7
Not Guilty – But Not Innocent

The last day of the trial of suspended Tamarac City Commissioner began at 2:10 PM. Judge Bernard Bober advised the jury that they would hear closing arguments from each side, prosecution and defense. He reminded the jurors that what the lawyers said would not be considered evidence.

Prosecutor Deborah Zimet did a credible job of explaining what the charges meant and what Patte had done. She reiterated that, besides the testimony of the Chaits, she had corroborating testimony from individuals who were not indicted or convicted felons.

Regarding the Unlawful Compensation, Bribery, and Official Misconduct charges, Zimet reminded the jurors:

  • As to the money for the car, a sales professional from Brahman BMW testified that Shawn Chait had paid the down payment in order for Atkins-Grad to be able to only pay $505 a month on her car lease
  • As to the Diamante’s Victory Party, the former sales manager of the banquet center testified that Shawn Chait paid all but $500 for the event
  • Regarding her campaign finances, her neighbor and campaign treasurer said that no money came out of campaign funds for the party
  • Marian Swenson, Tamarac’s former City Clerk and interim commissioner presented minutes of Tamarac City Commission meetings regarding the golf course development where Atkins-Grad never declared a conflict, never advised that she had received any gift from the Chaits, nor did she refrain from voting.

All the evidence appeared to be overwhelming as to misdeeds, malfeasance, and really gross misconduct.

That’s not the way the jury saw it. Although newspaper reports indicated that the jurors found her incompetent, rather than criminal, those reports also indicated that jurors did not speak to reporters. So, perhaps, there is speculation as to her reported incompetence. We do, however, have her attorney’s and her own words.

Several months ago Attorney Melnick, on behalf of Ms. Atkins-Grad filed a motion to have his client declared incompetent to stand trial. Throughout the trial, he has stressed her naïveté, political inexperience, and general inability to “see through” those trying to manipulate her: She was manipulated by the Chaits, by Diane Glasser, by everyone around her who were smarter than she was.

Prosecutor Zimet advised the jurors that Atkins-Grad was making more than $80,000. a year as a realtor, and in the credit application for her BMW, wrote that she had completed 2 years of college. Atkins-Grad, herself, stated on the last day of testimony that she, “Could not testify.” She indicated that the stress might cause her to have another stroke. Perhaps there is a competence issue.

Due to being found “Not Guilty,” by a jury, another set of dominoes has been set in motion. When, and if, Governor Rick Scott reinstates Atkins-Grad to her District Two Commission seat, then the people of the City of Tamarac should be concerned about their municipal government.

Michelle Gomez

Michelle Gomez, who was appointed to fill her slot will be relieved of her temporary position. She is an attorney, she is capable, and she has functioned well in that position. She has always been prepared and able and willing to speak about any item on the agenda. She has asked pertinent questions to clarify issues before the commission. Bye Bye, Michelle.

Welcome back to an elected official who casts doubt on her own abilities. One who could not see any wrong in accepting gifts and/or cash from those applying for relief from the city commission. One who is known to be vindictive.

She joins another commissioner who has stated that she has lost her long term memory, Diane Glasser.

Glasser says this is not a problem as a seated commissioner, as only short term memory is needed as a Tamarac Commissioner. Glasser doesn’t remember when, or why, she met the Chaits. She was the campaign manager, but never looked at the campaign finances or, as the Chaits said, she just called them when she wanted more money. For some reason, I think that I would remember how I met the man who gave me a check for $15,000. Lost long term memory or not, that should be etched somewhere in one’s brain.

True, Glasser was not an elected official of the City of Tamarac when she was managing Atkins-Grad’s first campaign. She was, however, an elected official of the Broward County Democratic Party, the Florida Democratic Party, and the National Democratic Committee. Do they not require some semblance of ethics and conduct? Do they require some type of long term memory?

So, it appears that the City of Tamarac may have a commission minority that may not be able function as the citizenry might want. Perhaps these two will do the correct and noble thing, and resign or the power that they seem to crave will overcome their oaths of office, and they will remain in their seats.

Only time will tell.

About Patti Lynn

Patti Lynn has been a Broward County Resident since 1963 and a Resident of Tamarac since 2001. Retired as manager for the US Post Office, she is the mother of two children and has a grandchild. Patti is currently the President of the Broward Coalition which is a coalition of condominium associations, homeowner associations and community business organizations representing over 100,000 families in Broward County. She is also on the Board of Directors of Mainlands 8 of Tamarac Lakes 8.

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  • Herman Pecker

    Patti Lynn, I do not have a horse in this race and really don’t care, but your bitterness in losing two elections to Ms. Atkins-Grad is clearly apparent. You lost both your races and made continual disparaging comments throughout her term in office. Whether she is competent to serve or not should not be up to you, as you have your own BS agenda. The fact that you “covered” this trial is a joke, and Sharon should be ashamed of herself.

    P.S. buy you a drink before you drive home?

    • None ya

      You must be referring to the DUI Patti Lynn got when she hit 7 cars and only stopped when residents came out of their homes and made her. A real pillar of the community.

  • None ya

    Your bitterness is thick. You seem to think that your “readers” can’t see right through your ridiculous bias. Like somehow people will consider you a reporter. My favorite thing is that Patte, with all her faults, was a better choice for the people of Tamarac than you (twice). You were even passed over to fill in for her when she was suspended. How horrible you must be. The biggest difference is you don’t have anyone speaking against you for years. You have made it clear that Patte has a big and important place in your life for you to go to such lengths. I think it’s time you accept definite and go back to…whatever it is you do.

  • SusanY

    I see that she has a couple of friends that have stood behind her but I’m not friends with anyone. I’m a resident that pays taxes, has no interest in commission meetings and wants my city run by people that know what their doing. Rather than shooting the messenger (which I think has done a fine job of reporting) I think you should be more concerned with your city than the ego of one person wanting their job back!!!! Although she was found to be not guilty we need to rethink letting her back into office agin. Please think about this from my standpoint and get out of the weeds here!!!

    • lil1234

      It’s hardly a “fine job” of reporting when you include obvious bias remarks instead of all factual information. Before you go running off with your ideas of who should or shouldn’t be “running the city,” you might want to get your information from a more credible source. Try not to just take the word of an old bitter drunk who is filled with nothing more than vengeance.

      • Michael

        As a tax paying citizen of Tamarac, who votes, we all have a right to an opinion of who should be “running the city,” and have every right to voice that within reason. The fact is that Patte took the bribes, that is not the dispute here, it is the defense she used in order to get away with it. She claimed she had a health issue, was not competant, was not up to speed as to what she could do leagally, was not bright enough to determine right from wrong, and evidentally it paid off for her, but not us. Ok so this is her excuse for what she did, but are these qualities she has allowing her to be fit for the job as Tamarac Commissioner? We think not, that is not bias, bitter, vengeance, or mis-information, because this is coming right from the corrupt horse’s mouth. Patte cooked her own goose, by claiming she was unfit to determine a bribe, in order to get acquitted, she actually is telling us that she is unfit to be the Commissioner, therefore, she should step down or be removed. Why would we want a Commissioner who clearly admits she is not capable of making good decisions continue to be Commissioner, or is it that she just lied in order to not get convicted? Either way you look at it, she is not fit to continue the job, plain and simple.

  • Oh my

    You say that the evidence was overwhelming and yet a jury of her peers did not seem to see it that way. I believe you genuinely think that you are right and have been completely justified in the defamation of Atkins-Grad’s character which you have dedicated so much of your life to for that past several years. However, I hope you can see how petty and small it makes you, especially since she has now prevailed against you yet again. On behalf of citizens who value unbiased and grammatically correct reporting, I am thankful that this will be your last “article.” I hope for your own sake, and that of everyone who has been subject to your rantings, that you are able to focus on your own life now instead of spending so much time focused on Patte Atkins-Grad. If she is incompetent, naive, vindictive, our any other choice descriptors you have used in your “reporting, ” then it is also worth remembering that she has come out ahead of you… repeatedly. So what does that say about you?

  • Mary

    How any of you people can defend this women is amazing. It shows that you are just as incompetent as she is. Obviously she’s deceived you just the way she deceived the courts.

  • Michael

    For all of you people who refer to “factual information”, then this woman is not fit to be a commissioner or hold any position in government. She is a disgrace to decent politicians and should be considered a thief by any definition. How anyone can support her, with her self-confessed taking of bribes is beyond me. You are speaking from a political line and nothing to do with decency or common sense.

  • Jack Webb

    A jury of her peers???

    How hard was it to find that many idiots?

  • Sheri H

    I want to thank the reporter for covering this trial and it gives us insite into what really happened here and why we know it was in our best interest to stand behind the recall. We will rally our neighbors about to get this woman out of office and thank you to all you have done to bring this to light Ms Lynn and everyone else. I suggest everyone read about this trial and learn more about who is representing them and learn the truth!