Suspended board member appears in court, seeks delay

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Suspended Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher made a brief appearance in federal court in Fort Lauderdale on Friday morning, delaying formal court action in the case until Nov. 20.

Gallagher, 51, who was charged in an ongoing public corruption sting, appeared relaxed at her 11 a.m. appearance.

"She's relaxed as much as she can be," said her attorney, Dave Bogenschutz, who said Gallagher's defense needed time to review the case being presented by prosecutors.

Bogenschutz said he expects that Gallagher will either have resolved the case with a plea agreement or she will have been indicted by a grand jury by the Nov. 20 court hearing.

Gallagher, 51, of Pembroke Pines, was arrested last month on charges of honest services fraud, extortion and bribery. If convicted, she faces a maximum of 20 years on the fraud and extortion charges, 10 years on the bribery charge and fines totaling $250,000.

She hired prominent attorney Bogenschutz to represent her last week.

The complaint against Gallagher said she and other unidentified people manipulated the school district's construction program to steer a $71 million building contract for Hollywood Hills High School to a company that would hire a subcontractor represented by undercover FBI agents. The project was later dropped because of budget cuts.

According to court documents, Gallagher met the undercover agents at a social event in November 2007 in Fort Lauderdale, and told them they could "make a lot of money together."

Gallagher later became a consultant for the agent, who told her he hoped to get on the district's short list of construction companies. A few weeks later, she reportedly received the first of three payments that totaled $12,500.

Meanwhile, a Broward contractor accused of helping to pay bribes in the corruption investigation is scheduled for a Nov. 10 change of plea hearing in federal court in West Palm Beach.

Federal prosecutors charged Luke Facarazzo Jr., with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Facarazzo, 56, was president and chief executive officer of Luke's Landscaping, a subsidiary of the property management company Continental Group, Inc. and FirstService Corp., which is publicly traded on NASDAQ. Facarazzo is charged, with Celestine Skippy "Skip" Aniekwu, a former building contractor employee, of setting up bribes allegedly to pay off unidentified Miramar officials.

Paula McMahon can be reached at or 954-356-4533.

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