Longform

Crime & Politics

Page 9 of 9

Not surprisingly, Ron Book's interpretation of events is considerably less harsh. "It's that rush to success," he ventures. "It's that drive to win, the drive to have that image of someone who meets his obligations and keeps his word. It wasn't as though I was trying to do something that was bad. I never thought about it being bad. I never thought about it being wrong. It was just easier, it was just quicker, it was more expeditious, it was sloppy, it was foolish, and it was a mistake.

"The bottom line is that sometimes you make commitments and the checks don't come in from clients and in the rush to keep my word that I would raise so much by such and such a date, I had people write checks."

But even in acknowledging his crime, Book has a way of making it seem almost noble. "I did it because I am a person of my word," he insists. "I think my word is important."

More important, evidently, than the law.
Now Book is left to ponder his future. "Integrity is important to me, in spite of the problem that just happened," he says. "Integrity means something to me. And I understand what the word means."

To demonstrate his understanding of integrity, Book points out that there are some clients he simply will not accept -- those, for example, who might use this phrase: We'll give you whatever you need to get there. "You say those words in my office, you're gone," Book says dramatically as he points toward his office door. "I'm not interested in representing you."

But how different are those words from the ones spoken by Book, and captured on police surveillance tapes, as he and former Opa-locka vice mayor Brian Hooten sat in the infamous Mercedes? "I'm there for you," Book told Hooten. "I'm there for whatever you tell me I got to do. How more direct can I be?

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Jim DeFede
Contact: Jim DeFede