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Boca Raton mayor charged with corruption tied to Palm Beach developers

Bank records reveal $335,000 in undisclosed payments from the Batmasians
April 25, 2018 03:30PM

Tivoli Park and Susan Haynie mugshot (Credit: Palm Beach County Jail and apartments.com)

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie has been charged with a slew of misconduct and corruption charges for alleged financial ties to prominent Palm Beach County developers James and Marta Batmasian.

Haynie was booked into Palm Beach County jail on Tuesday night for allegedly taking undisclosed payments from the Batmasians, according to the Palm Beach Post. She was later released on a $12,000 bond.

The mayor, who is running for a Palm Beach County commission seat, was charged with three counts of official misconduct for not disclosing compensation from the Batmasians and perjury for lying under oath to county ethics investigators about the payments. Both are third-degree felonies. Haynie was also charged with misuse of public office, corrupt misuse of official position and failure to disclose voting conflicts, all first-degree misdemeanors.

Bank records reveal $335,000 in payments, including to her husband Niel’s property management firm, Community Reliance, a software firm and rent collection between 2014 and 2017. The Haynies reportedly earned at least $64,000 for site work done at four properties owned by the Batmasians, including about $22,000 for work at the 15-acre Royal Palm Place near Mizner Park downtown, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Haynie told ethics investigators that Community Reliance only earned up to $14,000 for helping manage a 1,600-unit apartment complex in Deerfield Beach, which is controlled by the Batmasians. But bank records show Community Reliance earned up to $16,000 in 2017.

The mayor’s criminal defense attorney, Leonard S. Feuer said his client denies the allegations and is “preparing a vigorous defense.”

The Batmasians are the largest commercial property owners in Palm Beach County, with a portfolio valued at more than $100 million. In 2014, James Batmasian was sued by two former employees who accused him of sexual harassment and financial fraud. [Palm Beach Post] – Amanda Rabines