Skip to comments.HENDRICK ARRESTED Former county attorney picked up by FBI, IRS (FLorida Keys)
Posted on 05/20/2005 3:35:36 AM PDT by jsh3180
Former county attorney picked up by FBI, IRS
BY TIMOTHY O'HARA AND LAURIE KARNATZ
KEY WEST Jim Hendrick, former Monroe County attorney and one of the most prominent figures in the high-stakes world of Florida Keys law, politics and development, was arrested by federal agents Thursday.
FBI and IRS agents arrested Hendrick and flew him to a Miami detention facility. Federal authorities would not disclose the charges Thursday evening. Hendrick will have his first court appearance before a federal magistrate today in Miami.
Hendrick's fellow attorneys and legal assistants at the office he shares with attorney and federal magistrate Hugh Morgan locked the doors after his arrest and would not open them to a Key West Citizen reporter.
Hendrick, who served as a county attorney from 1995 to 2000, has been the focus of a federal investigation for more than two years. Federal agents have been probing Hendrick's relationship with millionaire developer Pritam Singh, according to sources who have talked with The Citizen in recent years. Key West developer Bob Butler told The Citizen in January 2003 that the FBI questioned him and confiscated records related to the Key West Golf Club. Two other independent sources confirmed that Hendrick and Singh had been under investigation.
Singh could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Butler claims that while he was Hendrick's client in the 1990s, Hendrick derailed his attempt to develop the Key West Golf Course in order for Singh to take over the project. Singh eventually bought the property for $4.6 million and turned it into a $75 million housing development project.
Hendrick's arrest is the second in two years of a prominent player in Monroe County politics from the 1990s. Former County Mayor Jack London was indicted in March 2004 on charges of lying to investigators and filing false income tax reports. The charges stem from London reportedly accepting a bribe while he sat on the County Commission. London has been slated to have a change of plea hearing for months, but each time the date nears, the hearing has been postponed.
Federal prosecutors have called a federal grand jury several times to discuss county business in recent years. Former County Administrator Jim Roberts went before the federal grand jury last year. He would not disclose the subject of the questioning. Federal agents have also subpoenaed boxes of county documents including paperwork related to Singh's Hawk's Cay Resort development.
Singh was ordered to produce all of his employment and financial records on Hendrick and his former colleagues Karen Cabanas and Ralf Brookes. The records include bills received and money paid to the attorneys.
News of Hendrick's arrest Thursday afternoon quickly spread throughout the Keys, where Hendrick has been a prominent player for decades. Before becoming county attorney, he was best known as an attorney for Singh, who bought the former Navy property at Truman Annex at auction and turned it into an upscale resort community.
With Hendrick as his attorney, Singh went through complex development approvals with the city, moving planned uses around the property.
"I imagine it has something to do with an issue that happened before I was on the commission," said County Commissioner Murray Nelson. "[But] until I have the facts, I really don't want to comment."
Hendrick was county attorney when the commission entered into a contract with KW Resort Utilities, a private sewer company on Stock Island. Some reviewers of the contract have said it was irregular. The project was the subject of a scathing county grand jury investigation, which found the county negligent in their handling of the project.
An audit by County Clerk Danny Kolhage's office said the contract with the utility was "ambiguous." And an outside law firm hired by the county called into question a number of contract provisions.
The grand jury found the contract lacking in provisions to safeguard Stock Island property owners and the county.
After retiring as county attorney in July 2002, Hendrick continued representing the county in land-use matters until September 2003. He also has handled a variety of land-use issues for clients whose projects are spread throughout the Keys.
Those projects have included the redevelopment of the Hurricane Hole Marina on Stock Island. He also represents the owners of Bama Seafood, also on Stock Island.
He is currently representing Tom Grimm and Earthmark Development, which is seeking to redevelop a trailer park and a marina in Key Largo. He also is the attorney for the controversial Watermark condominium project in the Key West Bight.
Thursday morning, Hendrick was at the Marathon Government Center representing a client at a special hearing on the county's proposed tier system. He reportedly was meeting with a client in his Whitehead Street office when federal agents arrested him at about 3 p.m. Thursday.
Hendrick, a native of Rochester, N.Y., graduated from the University of Miami Law School and moved to Key West in 1974. He joined Hugh Morgan to form Morgan & Hendrick in 1976, and was hired by the county as land-use counsel in 1990.
Made my day too. Seems like nothing changes on the Keys. Graft and corruption are a way of life, especially among democrats.
When I lived there, the sheriff ran the drug trade. One of my Dad's friends was labeled "one of the 10 crookedest politicians in the US". He was also tried, but bought off a juror, so they moved the trial to Orlando where he bought off another juror. Never was convicted. He bought up the land on one of the Keys, had the county put in a road, power and water from US 1 to the end of the road, about two miles, where there was just his house. Made a killing.
Was his first name Harry?
Nope. He went by initials- B.C.
I think know who you mean, it's difficult, so many crooks.
The article mentions Murray Nelson, he may be one of the few straight shooters, I have always liked him.
When I first glanced at this article, I coulda sworn it was about Jimi Hendrix.
Ann Johnston gave SSCS almost $2.7 million in stock in 1997. Her husband, Pritam Singh, is a real estate developer and a member of SSCS financial and management advisory board. According to the Key News Journal, hes under investigation by the FBI for his questionable business dealings. One Key West attorney has also filed a civil lawsuit against Singh, alleging almost 20 years of criminal activity -- including racketeering and fraud. Singh was fined $1.2 million by the federal Office of Thrift Supervision in 1995. And he quietly settled a lawsuit filed by members of his sales staff who said he illegally withheld their commissions.
Johnstons 1997 stock donation included shares of a company named Northern Development Associates, a for-profit business which is now 100-percent owned by Sea Shepherd.
Corporate records show that the companys officers include Watsons ex-wife Lisa DiStefano and longtime associate Michael Kundu. Northern Developments mailing address is the same as Pritam Singhs Key West Golf Club. Watson and DiStefano also serve, with Singh, on the board of something called the Sea Trek 2000 Foundation. The mailing address for that group is the same as one of Singhs Miami lawyers.
As a frequent visitor to Key West and the other Keys since the early 1990's, I share your joy. This guy is scum, and so is Singh. I don't even know what political party they belong to, not that it makes a difference. What's Hendrick's involvement in the current dispute between the Old Town Trolly and Duck Tours? And what is going to happen to Singh when the real estate bubble goes "pop?"
Dem? Dem appointee/hire?
statistically the odds favor a democrat.
That's what I thought. Another clue is that it is not revealed in the article.
You know, in the 30 years I have lived in the Keys, I have thought every year that the real estate market was topping out. Never in 30 years have prices gone down, they shoot straight up for a few years and then stabilize at that level for a while before spiking again. I am a general contractor in the Lower Keys and it amazes me that old dilapidated trailers are now selling for $400,000--$500,000.
My home that I built in 1995 has increased in value 7 fold in 10 years, I don't know where the money is coming from but people are shelling it out.
As to Hendrick, I hope he gets some serious penalties, I hope that they nail former County Administrator Roberts as well.
I know what you're saying.
LOL. Did he also do the marina project near the golf course -- the one near the County Jail?
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