Boca Mayor Susan Haynie’s next criminal hearing could yield trial date


A hearing that might yield a trial date in the corruption case against suspended Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie is scheduled for July 26 as the State Attorney’s Office mounts a case with several witnesses, including the developers at the center of her scandal.

Judge Glenn Kelley set the July status hearing to check on the progress of the case during a period that allows parties to negotiate a plea deal or decide to head to trial. It isn’t clear if Haynie, 62, will appear in court for the hearing. She was absent from her June 19 hearing, according to court records.

Haynie has pleaded not guilty to four felonies and three misdemeanors, stemming from allegations she and her husband, Neil Haynie, collected $335,000 in unreported income during her two-term tenure as mayor. About one-third of the earnings allegedly came from Boca Raton developer duo James and Marta Batmasian while Haynie voted on projects that benefited the couple.

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Both James and Marta Batmasian are on the state’s lengthy witness list, according to discovery documents filed by the State Attorney’s Office.

Also on the civilian witness list:

- Susan Haynie’s husband, Neil.

- Ann Waller, Scott Lawson and Barbara Kenney, employees of the Batmasians’ business Investments Limited.

- Al Zucaro, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor against Haynie in 2017.

- Frank Chapman, an attorney and Zucaro ally who reported Haynie’s business interests to the state attorney last year.

- Corey Bryant, whose address is listed as a Batmasian-owned property in Deerfield Beach.

Prosecutors also are calling Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics investigator Abigail Irizarry and Florida Ethics Commission investigator Ron Moalli as expert witnesses. Both agencies launched probes into Haynie’s unreported business interests. The county ethics agency fined and reprimanded Haynie two weeks before she was criminally charged. It isn’t clear if the state investigation is ongoing, but criminal cases typically supersedes an ethics queries.

Some of the witnesses, including Marta Batmasian and some of her employees, were questioned by ethics investigators last fall in interviews that are now public. The investigators’ questions were aimed at exploring the connection between Haynie and the Batmasians, the largest commercial land owners in the city.

The Palm Beach Post reported on Haynie’s financial ties to the couple in November, revealing that Haynie had been quietly collecting money from a company controlled by the Batmasians while voting on projects the couple proposed to the city council.

The state attorney’s case against Haynie also includes scores of subpoenaed bank records, ethics investigation reports, property records, emails, corporate records, Boca Raton City Council meeting minutes and recorded statements, discovery documents show.

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Haynie’s attorney, Bruce Zimet, did not immediately respond to a phone call. Zimet previously told The Palm Beach Post that Haynie intends to fight the charges.

Haynie, a Republican seven times elected to office in 17 years, filed a motion to dismiss all seven charges, in part because a state law that governs public corruption changed in 2016.

Haynie faces three felony charges of official misconduct, which allege that Haynie breached the public trust by falsifying mandatory state documents. Haynie is accused of not accurately reporting earnings in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The Palm Beach Post reported in November  that Haynie did not report certain earnings on the state forms.

But the state law changed in 2016. Where it once required the state prove an elected official acted with “corrupt intent,” it now requires only that an elected official “knowingly and intentionally” committed the crime.

Haynie’s motion argues that the state attorney did not sufficiently prove “corrupt intent” in the charging documents. Court documents show the judge hasn’t yet ruled on Haynie’s motion to dismiss.

Gov. Rick Scott suspended Haynie from office three days after she was criminally charged. The city is holding a special election in August to replace the embattled mayor.

Follow Delray Beach reporter Lulu Ramadan on Twitter at @luluramadan



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