By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
The genesis of this arrangement would have remained secret if the FBI, a few weeks later, had not caught Gary in a kickback scheme at the City of Miami. A trapped Gary then led prosecutors to Grigsby and the recycling plant deal at county hall. Gary agreed to wear a wire and help set up Grigsby, Burke, and Hardemon.
Grigsby will try to convince the jury that Gary is the real criminal.
There are, of course, numerous holes in Grigsby's scenario, not the least of which is the apparent lack of explanation for his having allegedly wired $50,000 to an off-shore bank account in Burke's name. Furthermore, Grigsby's attempt to portray himself as an otherwise honest and ethical businessman swept into the sewer of Miami-Dade County politics doesn't comport with his history of dealings elsewhere in the nation. Finally, the image of this California millionaire as a hapless victim succumbing to the evil advances of Howard Gary suggests a personal frailty on Grigsby's part that is difficult to fathom.
One story from Grigsby's past is particularly insightful. Let's call it the Easter Sunday shotgun, groin-kicking incident. On that evening in 1994, Grigsby's fourteen-year-old daughter, who apparently had been grounded for the night, sneaked out to the movies with her eighteen-year-old cousin and one of the cousin's friends, twenty-year-old Bryan Creech.
A few hours later, when Creech returned with the daughter, an incensed Grigsby blocked the driveway with his BMW, preventing Creech from leaving. Grigsby then emerged from his car brandishing a shotgun, booted the startled Creech in the groin, and ordered him to lie on the ground, according to a 1996 San Francisco Examiner story based on court records and police reports.
"What are you doing with my daughter?" Grigsby demanded. "I'm going to kill you! Are you ready to die, motherfucker?"
The six-foot-two Grigsby then marched Creech into the house, took his wallet and pager, and searched his vehicle. In the meantime, Grigsby's wife and daughter begged him to come to his senses and put down the gun. "Dad, what are you doing?" his daughter reportedly shouted. Eventually Grigsby relented and told Creech to "get the hell out of here."
Contra Costa County Sheriff's deputies arrived and arrested Grigsby for battery, false imprisonment, and brandishing a firearm. According to the Examiner, Grigsby claimed he thought his daughter had been kidnapped.
A judge ultimately dismissed the charges against Grigsby, angering the prosecutor. "One's access to wealth should not provide a shield under which he can violate the rights of others with impunity!" the prosecutor wrote in a letter to the judge.
Rivals in the bond industry say Grigsby built what was until recently the largest black-owned bond firm in the nation through a combination of talent and the same sort of killer instinct that left Creech doubled over and whimpering on the front lawn.
Grigsby also has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for politicians around the country and has never been shy about using his ties to those in power. "I'm a political groupie, I know everybody," he told the San Francisco Examiner a few years ago. In addition to being a major donor to the Democratic Party, the 52-year-old Grigsby was born in President Clinton's hometown of Hope, Arkansas. "Bill Clinton and I are homies," Grigsby bragged.
His Miami indictments are not the first time his name has been linked to allegations of political corruption. In the mid-Eighties the FBI investigated accusations that Willie Brown, the former speaker of the California House of Representatives and current mayor of San Francisco, pressured the state treasurer into steering lucrative contracts to Grigsby. Former acting state treasurer Elizabeth Whitney told federal agents and the Los Angeles Times that on two occasions Brown insisted she assist Grigsby's firm.
Whitney claimed that as long as she was willing to help Grigsby, Brown remained her ally. But in 1988, while still acting treasurer, Whitney said she angered Grigsby by refusing to hand him the lion's share of an upcoming state bond issue. Whitney alleged that prior to the clash, Brown had promised to support her appointment as permanent state treasurer and to fight against an attempt by then-Gov. George Deukmejian to replace her. After her conflict with Grigsby, Whitney claims Brown refused to talk to her and she eventually lost the treasurer's seat. The FBI investigation went nowhere.
Jurors in the Miami seaport and bond cases are unlikely to hear about either the Easter rampage or Whitney's allegations of political strong-arming, neither of which were isolated incidents. But both are worth keeping in mind as a new year approaches and Grigsby prepares to take the stand.