Tamarac City Manager Michael Cernech and shady developers Bruce And Shawn Chait repeatedly discussed Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton in a series of text messages, official criminal case documents show. On Friday, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the arrest of Cernech on felony conspiracy to commit racketeering (RICO) for his role in an extortion plot hatched by the Chaits. The father and son developers have a long history of landing Tamarac and Broward politicians in legal hot water.
An affidavit filed by a Florida Department Of Law Enforcement (FDLE) agent details numerous communications and meetings between Cernech and the Chaits regarding a Tamarac property once owned by the Chaits. Hoping to recoup gains they felt they deserved, the Chaits attempted to get the current owner of the Woodlands parcel to pay $3.4 million in compensation. If the victim refused pay, the Chaits and Cernech were prepared to scuttle any future development plans with bogus claims of contamination at the site.
The affidavit by FDLE Special Agent Monica Baldo includes text messages obtained from the telephones of Bruce and Shaw Chait. Both men were arrested in March 2021. The text messages were from February and March 2021.
In February, the victim, after realizing Cernech was involved in the matter, requested a meeting with the Chaits. On March 1, 2021, the victim met the Chaits at a Coconut Creek restaurant. The FDLE monitored the entire meeting.
Two days later, Bruce Chait asked Cernech if it was “time to let the genie out of the bottle.” Cernech said, “He’s stalling…wait until they get a call from Bolton…he’s their 3rd vote, they need him or it’s over for them.”
Chait was still worried about his plan succeeding. “We still have the Bolton card to play,” Cernech said.
Later that day, Bruce Chait texted Cernech again. “Any thoughts how we can get to douche bags attention without dropping the [atom] bomb.”
Cernech replied, “Bolton.”
Chait responded, “Should I have [alleged co-conspirator John] Colonel send Bolton another letter.”
Cernech replied, “Just wait until Friday. He said he’d call you Thursday, yes?”
The affidavit does not go into further detail about Marlon Bolton role (if any) in this matter. Bolton did not respond to questions by REDBROWARD regarding the matter.
The Chaits along with Harris Shapiro and John Colonel were arrested a week later on racketeering and extortion charges.
Less than one month later, the Sun-Sentinel published its first story detailing changes to the travel budget of Tamarac Commissioners.
Marlon Bolton and fellow Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin became extremely critical of Cernech after the Sun-Sentinel story. The two pushed for a leak investigation inside City Hall to find out the source(s) of the Sun-Sentinel story.
Now, Marlon Bolton is demanding an emergency meeting with his fellow commissioners regarding Cernech. Bolton said he read the arrest affidavit. He says he’s worried that Cernech is not barred from resuming his duties at City Hall.
Bolton said, “If no meeting is announced, then, in my opinion, my colleagues would have sent a clear message that your interest has taken a back seat on their priority list.”
But Bolton never addresses the fact he is mentioned by name in this very affidavit.
Shouldn’t Bolton reveal any communications with Cernech about the issue?
Did Bolton ever speak with Bruce Chait, Shawn Chait, Harris Shapiro or John Colonel about this matter? What was in the first letter sent by Colonel?
Did Marlon Bolton call Bruce and Shawn Chait as promised?
Don’t Tamarac residents deserve answers about Bolton’s role (if any) in the Woodlands mess?
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