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Former Broward Commissioner Eggelletion wants 2 1/2-year delayed prison term

When disgraced former Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion is sentenced Friday for a money-laundering conspiracy, he will ask for punishment of no more than 2 1/2 years in federal prison, according to court documents filed by his defense team.

Eggelletion, who is recovering from two surgeries related to prostate cancer, also wants the judge to delay the date he would start serving any prison term.

In documents filed late Wednesday, Eggelletion's lawyers have requested he be allowed to turn himself in April 12, or after the U.S. Bureau of Prisons decides where he should serve his prison time. Prosecutors have not opposed that request, and the delay would spare taxpayers the cost of providing his medical treatment, the attorneys wrote.

Eggelletion is "abjectly apologetic" and deeply regrets his crimes, which brought an embarrassing end to the 20-year career of one of the county's longest-serving black elected officials. He was the first African-American to be Broward County mayor and also served in the Legislature.

"Mr. Eggelletion will not in any way seek to deflect attention from the fact that he committed wrong, knowing it was wrong and should never have done it," Ben Kuehne, one of his attorneys, said in an interview. "There is no excuse for his misconduct and he does not intend to offer any excuse."

Eggelletion faces a maximum of five years in federal prison.

He pleaded guilty in December to conspiring to launder $900,000 he thought was dirty money through the Bahamas and U.S. Virgin Islands. He received about $23,000 for helping set up the deal, prosecutors said.

Sentencing guidelines in his case suggest a term of 2 1/2 years to slightly more than 3 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks could impose stiffer or lesser punishment at the hearing Friday in federal court in West Palm Beach.

Eggelletion, 60, of Lauderdale Lakes, declined to comment to the Sun Sentinel.

His legal team of Kuehne, Johnny McCray Jr. and Kendall Coffey asked the judge to recommend Eggelletion receive alcohol education and rehabilitation programs while in prison "in view of his documented dependence on alcohol during much of his adult life."

Eggelletion's legal troubles will not end with the federal punishment. The Broward State Attorney's Office has charged him with unlawful compensation, a felony.

Eggelletion has given a sworn statement admitting he accepted a $3,200 golf club membership and $25,000 in cash from developers Bruce and Shawn Chait in exchange for favorable votes for their Prestige Homes of South Florida projects.

Eggelletion has pleaded not guilty to the state charge but expects to resolve it after the federal sentencing, his attorneys said.

Middlebrooks will review dozens of letters of support for Eggelletion from family, friends, community leaders and politicians, many of whom are African-Americans who said he inspired or encouraged their public service.

Among those who wrote to the judge in support of Eggelletion was W. George Allen, a member of the Broward School District's Commission on Education Excellence Through Integrity, Public Ethics and Transparency.

The panel was established after the arrests of Eggelletion, School Board member Beverly Gallagher, who has been suspended, and former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman in the FBI's undercover corruption sting.

"I know nothing of the facts in his case or the charges he faces," Allen wrote. "I personally know Joe as a hardworking, proud man whose accomplishments were many and varied, and as a person dedicated to public service … I also believe that Joe deserves a second chance. I do not believe Joe's life should be viewed through the prism of only the acts he was charged with and pleaded guilty to."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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