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September 05, 2007
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Fla. sheriff resigns amid corruption probe

By Curt Anderson
The Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. The sheriff of Broward County resigned Tuesday amid a corruption investigation, and a law enforcement official said a plea deal was in the works involving federal tax evasion and mail fraud charges.

Sheriff Ken Jenne made his resignation official in an e-mail to his employees and in a separate letter to Gov. Charlie Crist.

"I need to turn my attention to myself and my family," Jenne wrote in the e-mail.

Under the agreement, Jenne would plead guilty to three counts of tax evasion and one count of mail fraud, according to a senior federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the papers had not been filed Tuesday morning. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the sheriff could face at least a year in prison.

The plea deal came as Jenne faced a possible indictment on more serious money-laundering and other charges after a two-year corruption investigation into his outside business transactions.

Jenne's attorney, David Bogenschutz, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

Jenne, 60, a longtime force in local and state Democratic politics, has been sheriff of Florida's second-most populous county since his appointment in 1998 by then-Gov. Lawton Chiles. He was re-elected in 2000 and 2004 to run an agency that has some 6,300 employees and an annual budget of nearly $700 million.

On Tuesday, Crist named as acting sheriff Maj. Alfred Lamberti, a 29-year veteran of the sheriff's office. The governor told reporters he would look for a permanent replacement to serve the rest of Jenne's term through 2008.

"This is a huge job," Crist said. "I mean, the sheriff of Broward County is a big deal, and I want to do what's right by the people of Broward County."

State and federal investigations were launched after news reports of Jenne's outside business activities.

Among the witnesses called before a federal grand jury was developer Phillip Procacci, who owns a building that leases space to the sheriff's office and to a federal-state drug task force.

According to lawyers involved in the case, Procacci loaned $20,000 to one of Jenne's secretaries, who in turn loaned it to Jenne to help the sheriff pay his income taxes in 2004. Procacci's attorney, Edward O'Donnell Jr., said his client thought the money was for the secretary and that there was no link between the sheriff's office lease and the loan.

Full story: Fla. sheriff resigns amid corruption probe

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