Michelle Spence-Jones Acquitted of Bribery Charge

spence jones.jpg
UPDATE: Miami-Dade State Attorney Kath​erine Fernandez Rundle stands by her decision to prosecute Michelle Spence-Jones for bribery, claiming the judge presiding over the suspended Miami city commissioner's trial screwed up the verdict's outcome.

"We disagree with the judge's interpretation of bribery law," Rundle said in a statement released shortly after a jury acquitted Spence-Jones today of bribery and grand theft charges. She was accused of shaking down real estate developers Armando Codina and Ricardo Glas for $25,000 in exchange for her vote on the renaming of a city street.

Public corruption prosecutor Richard Scruggs failed to prove that Spence-Jones engineered a complex pay-off scheme in which the $25,000 was funneled through a charity organization called the Miami-Dade Community Foundation, which held the money in a bank account on behalf of a separate non-profit agency set up by the ex-city commissioner called Friends of MLK. Scruggs claimed Spence-Jones used the $25,000 as "a personal piggy bank."

However, Scruggs had trouble with his star witness. As reported here first, Codina testified before trial that Scruggs misled him into believing Spence-Jones had taken the money for herself.

Jeb Bush's former partner repeated his accusations after he took the witness stand last week. "I was purposely misled," Codina told reporters in the courtroom hallway following his testimony. Under oath, he also denied that he expected Spence-Jones' to vote in his favor because of the $25,000 donation.

I left there feeling ashamed and embarrassed. I thought Michelle Spence-Jones had misused my money," Codina said on the witness stand. "Only later did I find out the event did happen... and that the check was deposited with the Dade Community Foundation as I had expected."

Judge Rosa Rodriguez, who Rundle tried to have removed from presiding over the case because the state attorney prosecuted her once, instructed the jury that it was legal for Spence-Jones to ask and accept the $25,000 on behalf of Friends of MLK so long as the funds did not go to the commissioner or any of her relatives for personal benefit.

Rundle argues Rodriguez erred. "The jury had no choice but to acquit the defendant because the judge instructed the jury that, in effect, soliciting or accepting a bribe through a charity is legal, even if done with corrupt intent," Rundle's statement said. "We believe that bribery done to influence a public official, even if done through a charity, is illegal."

One could argue Rundle is just sore about losing a high profile public corruption case. After all, if she was serious about going after people who funnel bribes through non-profit organizations, then she would have a case load a mile long with all the developers who make "charitable contributions" to homeowner and condo associations in exchange for their support on zoning applications.

Besides, Rundle still has one more shot at Spence-Jones, who is facing another trial on an unrelated grand theft charge in which she is accused of stealing county grants that were meant for the redevelopment of a building in Liberty City.

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Who pays her bills?
Who pays her bills?

People want to know who is paying Spence's attorneys and publicists?

zqxz
zqxz

Finally (48 hours) time limit to buy.

LV Muffler $ 5.99LV Bags $ 19.9 LV Wallet $ 6.55Armani Glasses $ 5.99LV Belt $ 6.9

Buy addresses---- tntn.usTips (48 hours after the special product is invalid)

P_Nis
P_Nis

Are you pissed off about what Scruggs did to Spence-Jones? Forget about waiting for Rundle to do anything about it, complain directly to the Florida Bar...

Arlene Kalish SankelChief Branch Discipline Counsel305-377-4445305-377-4519 (fax)asankel@flabar.org

Call, fax or email and ask them why a man who's a fugitive is allowed to practice law, ask them why Scruggs is allowed to lie to witnesses in order to elicit testimony that's favorable to the state then demand that they take action against him and his supervisors that allow him to behave in such an unethical and immoral fashion!

ShesACrook
ShesACrook

More like pissed off he didn't get her behind bars.

get informed
get informed

Read the Codina depositions, friends. He said he was ashamed that he agreed to MSJ's request while he had a commercial matter before the commission on his mind. And then immediately called his business partner in that commercial matter to kick in part of the donation. Sure looks like an attempt "influence" a public servant, keep her happy while a commercial matter before her was pending. It's insidious for elected officials to solicit money in these circumstances. She shouldn't have solicited, he shouldn't have paid. The Florida bribery law sets a high standard -- maybe y'all should lobby the legislature to lower it.

towerofpower
towerofpower

that is not what he said at all...READ IT....

MDIAZ082
MDIAZ082

WELL SAID!!! WHY IS THIS CORRUPT STATE ATTORNEY ALLOWED TO BEHAVE IN THIS ILLEGAL FASHION? SCRUGGS SHOULD BE FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES. IN ADDITION, MRS. FERNANDEZ RUNDLE SHE DISRESPECTS JUDGE ROSA RODRIGUEZ.NOTE:P_NIS, YOU SEEM TO BE KNOWLEDGEABLE.....CAN YOU SEND A LETTEROF COMPLAINT?

Next Arthur Teele?
Next Arthur Teele?

Spence now burdened by huge bills to her many lawyers. Will she "do an Arthur Teele" in the Herald lobby?

Remember OJ
Remember OJ

OJ Simpson was found "not guilty" by a jury.

Spence is a thug.

jmhpro
jmhpro

Scruggs why don't you just pack your bags and leave.

P_Nis
P_Nis

Misleading witnesses, coercing false testimony and outright fabricating evidence is nothing new with the Reno era dinosaurs at the state attorneys office. It's time for Rundle to clean house and get rid of the likes of Scruggs, Kerstein et all.

Do the right thing Kathy or you'll be joining Carlos and Natacha!!

Chudzikiewiczherbchodkiewicz
Chudzikiewiczherbchodkiewicz

Maybe I am the only one remembers the Rosa Rodriquez scandal. She was accused of being a dummy who did not know the law and was heading for loss in an election, but VICTOR DIAZ, organizated a media campaign (remember when he was a columnist for the Miami Herald?) saying the charges were based on White Men (read that Jews) who didn't want a woman or Hispanic on the bench. It was one of the worst racist and sexist campaigns to cover up a lousy Judge. So if a guilty Miami Commissioner got away, send your thanks to Victor Diaz' new offices in South Beach!!!!!"

Loius
Loius

The redevelopment of that building did happen. I think what is more in question is that the business that occupied that building were ran by family members of Spence Jones.

towerofpower
towerofpower

No that is not what is in question. Michelle was not in office at the time. What they are accusing her of is forging a letter and diverting the funds to herself. There is proof that she did not forge the letter. Scruggs is at it again. I doubt however he will get to prosecute this case. Rundle can't afford another embarrassment or the scrutiny another trial will produce. I for one will be calling the Feds in the morning to encourage them to look at this office and its misconduct.

Loius
Loius

Maybe they are focusing on the forgery alone, but i know for a fact that the beauty salon/sandwich shop which is now a vacant building was owned and operated by Spence Jones. If she did commit a forgery and that is "if" that is her motive. It is coincidence that the beauty salon/sandwich shop vacated as soon as the charges came about. And yes, that was while she was Commissioner.

jmhpro
jmhpro

You are right they did fix the building up (a former crack house) and opened a salon in one part of the building. There was also an apartment upstairs. There is no dispute about that and no one is denying that. The salon shut down because of the economy. This issue at hand is that she forged a letter to divert funds to herself/family. That clearly (with hard evidence proving it) did not happen.

Loius
Loius

I meant owned and operated by Spence Jones Family members, including the renovators

MDIAZ
MDIAZ

DITTO - RICHARD SCRUGGS IS NOT FIT TO PROSECUTE ANYONE! ACCORDING TO AN ARTICLE IN THE STRAW BUYERS, HE IS A WANTED MAN IN COSTA RICA. HIS MISCONDUCT SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED AND PUNISH. WHO SUPERVISES THE SAO? CONGRATULATIONS COMMISSIONER MICHELLE SPENCE-JONES. YOU SHOULD BE RESTORED TO YOUR ELECTED POSITION.

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