Spence-Jones surrenders on new charges
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Suspended City of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones turned herself in after a grand jury indicted her on bribery charges.
Spence-Jones appeared at the Miami-Dade Courthouse with an entourage of supporters at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. She stood before a judge who formally charged her. Miami-Dade police officers then cuffed her and ushered her to the Miami-Dade County jail, which she bonded out of by 2:30 that afternoon. "I expect to have a victory, and I'm putting it in God's hands," she told reporters.
The State Attorney's Office reported, Wednesday afternoon, that a 21-person grand jury had indicted Spence-Jones for bribery. These are new charges dating back to an expansion project in 2006.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle said the grand jury determined there was probable cause in the case after looking at alleged evidence that an aid for Spence-Jones had solicited funds. "A couple of developers in town, leasing agents, received phone calls asking for contributions totaling $25,000 to be made to an event that was going to occur several days later, after the vote would occur, and so two checks were issued ... each one was for $12,500, was issued to the MLK Trust, and the MLK Trust is functioned, operated by, primarily, Michelle Spence-Jones."
Officials said, Spence-Jones made a deal where there was supposed to be a vote in front of the commission in 2006 to extend the name of Brickell Avenue to properties on Southeast Second Avenue. That extension would have enhanced the marketability of those properties, including the Met One project. Spence-Jones never voted on the issue, as the Florida Legislature took it over.
On Wednesday, Fernandez-Rundle, referenced the earlier charges that resulted in Florida Governor Charlie Crist suspending Spence-Jones from office last December."Well, essentially what the grand jury did was indict for the previous charge of grand theft," Fernandez-Rundle said.
Spence-Jones has already been suspended from office twice by the governor. Crist first suspended her after the State Attorney charged her with grand theft for allegedly funneling Miami-Dade County grant money to a personal business.
Spence-Jones has been fighting her second suspension in court, saying Crist had no right to re-suspend after she won a special election earlier this year. The governor had called for that election after he first suspended her.
Earlier, Spence-Jones called the recent indictment political. "It is a travesty. It's shameful and disgraceful that the justice system would be used like this just because we were going to prevail. Just because the people decided who they wanted their leader to be that you would go to this extent to use the system. It's wrong," Spence-Jones said.
No word on how these new charges will affect the outcome of her current court battle. The State-Attorney said that case is in the hands of a judge.
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