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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Another Mendelsohn scam?

12

October

Political fund-raiser Alan Mendelsohn's puffery was in full bloom in early May 2007 when he solicited $400,000 in donations from Fort Lauderdale businessman Joel Steinger.

Mendelsohn, who was being recorded by Steinger in an FBI sting operation, said the money would pay for TV ads for a "political campaign for public office."

Mendelsohn was backing Republican Richard Corcoran of Crystal River in a GOP primary for an open Senate seat that June. Corcoran was running against two other candidates, Charlie Dean of Inverness and and Dennis Baxley of Ocala.

But there was a slight problem with Mendelsohn's constant pitch to Steinger throughout May -- Corcoran had dropped out of the primary race on May 14, 2007. In other words, the funds solicited by Mendelsohn couldn't have been for Corcoran at that point.

Twelve days later, Steinger gave Mendelsohn the "first payment of $150,000 in contributions," according to federal prosecutors.

In exchange for the money, Mendelsohn was recorded telling Steinger that he had bribed Gov. Charlie Crist and other government officials to shut down a federal investigation into the businessman's company, Mutual Benefits Corp.

It was all a lie, prosecutors said. Mendelsohn was charged last month in a 32-count indictment with defrauding fat-cat contributors who gave more than $2 million to his three political action committees.
Like Steinger, they believed they were buying Mendelsohn's clout and connections.

The doctor allegedly spent at least $624,000 of the donations on himself and his mistress -- as well as funneling $87,000 to an unnamed "public official'' in Florida.

--Jay Weaver, Miami Herald

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 3:22pm]

    

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