Homestead Councilman Jimmie Williams Blew $250,000 From His Developer Buddy On a Failed Fried Fish Stand
Last year, Homestead City Councilman Rev. Jimmie Williams III wanted to open his own fried fish restaurant. So he
turned to a generous land owner who helped him and three other
candidates, including current Mayor Steve Bateman, win in 2009. Real
estate developer Wayne Rosen -- who bankrolled a political action
committee that paid for mailers, media ads, and get-out-the-vote
services for his slate - gave Williams a $250,000 promissory note
to open a Snapper's Fast Food restaurant on Ives Dairy Road.
But the fried fish joint closed its doors six months after opening. Yet a recently closed probe by ethics investigators has found that Williams did not commit any wrongdoing by taking the loan, even though the councilman didn't pay back the cash and Rosen made no attempt to collect the debt.
However, investigator Karl Ross notes in a close-out memo that the business arrangement "seems inappropriate" and suggests that Williams violated state dislcosure laws by failing to list his debt to Rosen, who was only entitled to $46,875 since he also owned a 37.5 interest in the venture.
Williams subsequently amended his financial disclosure form to reflect the money owed to Rosen. Ross's year-long investigation did not find proof that Williams exploited his position by voting on any matters that came before the city council that pertained to Rosen. In fact, the councilman abstained from voting on anything related to Rosen.
Williams and his benefactor blamed the restaurant's failure on their third partnter, Rashid Keblawe, who owns several Snapper's franchises. Williams told the ethics commission investigator that Keblawe did not provide him and his family with the proper training to run the restaurant. Keblawe countered that Williams' relatives would not listen to his instructions. The Snapper's folded at the end of December of 2011.
It had opened last June, shortly after the county mayoral run-off between Carlos Gimenez. New Times columnist Luther Campbell alleged the Snapper's was also the site of a late night meeting that included Gimenez, Williams, and Rosen. After Gimenez left, Campbell claims that Williams offered him $40,000 to make an appearance at the grand opening of the restaurant.
Campbell accused Williams of trying to buy him off to endorse Gimenez. (Williams didn't return calls to respond to that claim.) Instead, the former 2 Live Crew front man endorsed Robaina, who lost the run-off.
Here's the full report from Ross:
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