Calling it “insanity” run amok, Pompano Beach Commissioner Michael Sobel blasted a deal to pay $265,000 to a city activist some call a “Political Pimp.” At Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, Sobel was the lone voice questioning the plan to pay the legal fees Vicente Thrower racked up following his April 2010 arrest on bribery and unlawful compensation charges.
In 2014, a Broward jury found Vincente Thrower not guilty on three of the charges. During the trial, attorney Michael Hursey argued Thrower was not a public official under Florida law. The jury bought his defense that he was a mere volunteer not a public servant capable of accepting unlawful compensation.
In March 2015, REDBROWARD reported Thrower wanted the Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Association (CRA) to pay his $478,000 legal bill. In a letter to the Pompano Beach commission, his attorney Hursey painted Thrower as a victim of false criminal charges. He wrote, “Thrower just completed a very difficult 4 1/2 year journey, living under the shadow of charges which were ultimately proved false.” He said Pompano Beach paying for the legal fees would “put Mr. Thrower on the road to restoring the enormous loss he suffered when fighting these unfounded charges.”
THROWER’S VOLUNTARY STATEMENT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT
Even though a Broward jury failed to convict him, Vicente Thrower admitted many of the details in a February 2010 sworn statement to the Broward State Attorney.
Thrower admitted working for developers with business before Pompano Beach. These developers,which included Cornerstone, Habitat For Humanity, Pompano Beach Living LLC, and Lavish Homes, paid thousands of dollars to Thrower. He never disclosed his contractual relationships.
Thrower also admitted speaking with the FBI regarding his dealings with notorious developers Bruce and Shawn Chait.
One the final items at Tuesday’s Pompano Beach City Commission meeting was the deal to pay $265,000 to Thrower for legal fees. City Manager Greg Harrison said he negotiated the deal with Thrower and his attorney in a effort to avoid more legal costs and to protect future Pompano Beach volunteers. Mayor Lamar Fisher and most Commissioners bought into Harrison’s laughable rationale.
Michael Sobel wasn’t buying it.
In a stunning ten minute presentation, Sobel said, “Off all the shenanigans that I’ve seen and heard since getting elected, this one ranks toward the top.” Echoing a sermon he heard in church, he said the deal was “one giant muddy fountain.” Sobel said by accepting the deal the Commission was “being asked to reward a local resident…for his bad and likely unethical behavior.”
Sobel said, “[Thrower] needs to be responsible for his own actions.”
Commissioner Sobel said the deal was first mentioned a week earlier as a “surprise add-on” to the CRA meeting agenda. He said the deal was not properly vetted. Sobel warned it was unclear how much of the money would actually go to Thrower himself.
“Are the residents paying attention,” Sobel asked. “This is a shady deal!”
Sobel said he did not care about warnings his opposition to this deal would hurt his campaign for mayor. He said the deal shows, “Some people get special deals while the residents as a whole suffer. The leaders of the Northwest should think hard about that.”