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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mandy Dawson's former aide lawyers up in Mendelsohn case



Venica Blakely, a former aide and consultant to former Sen. Mandy Dawson, has hired Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Michael Doddo amid questions about his client's involvement with indicted political player Alan Mendelsohn.

Doddo called a Miami Herald reporter on his cell phone Tuesday and told hm not to call his client. Doddo said he was representing Blakely but would not comment on her, her role in the Mendelsohn case or anything else, saying he had to "respect the ongoing investigation."

Asked whether he would comment about the Herald's story identifying Blakely as the "intermediary" who allegedly gave $87,000 to an unnamed public official, Doddo refused to comment.

"I'm not answering any questions," Doddo said. "I don't want to jeopardize anything by commenting about the investigation one way or another."

Mendelsohn's Ophthalmology PAC paid her $25,000 for an expense reimbursement in 2004. Blakely also received $3,179 in campaign work from Dawson's re-election campaign.

The indictment of Mendelsohn says an unnamed public official was paid $87,000 through an intermediary, and it lists the dates of the payments to the intermediary from the PACs controlled by Mendelsohn.
Blakely, 35, of Coral Springs, also worked as a legislative aide to Dawson in 2000 and 2001. Dawson and Blakely haven't returned our calls since the day Mendelsohn was indicted. Their names first appeared in this story. Dawson told the Sun Sentinel that she has spoken to the FBI but she doesn't have a lawyer. She denied wrongdoing. Dawson was so close to Mendelsohn that, when she hurt her leg and was in a wheelchair, he pushed her around the Capitol.

Blakely's silence bears some irony. After all, her Web site is called "Venica Speaks." Her Twitter bio says "Master Self-Discovery Coach and Change Agent. Mission: Helping others to discover their true potential that lies within. DISCOVER. BREAKTHROUGH. SUCCEED."


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:21pm]


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