NewsLocal NewsInvestigations


Riviera Beach controversial legislative aide resigns after lying about arrest

Sammie Brown worked for Councilwoman Julia Botel and often verbally attacked her political enemies while pocketing $14,000 in overtime for a part-time job
Posted at 7:08 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 11:06:41-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — A controversial legislative aide in Riviera Beach resigned on Friday after lying about his arrest last week.

Sammie Brown worked for councilmember Julia Botel, pulling in thousands of dollars in overtime that appears to have violated a policy set by the city manager. In turn, Brown often would attack Botel's political enemies.

Contact 5 in March broke that the FBI interview Botel in relation to the charity she started. Now her trusted aide — and political pitbull — has resigned.

After his arrest on an outstanding warrant last week, Sammie Brown said someone else used his name and address to the officer who pulled him over.  
He told Contact 5 on April 30th, he was a victim of identity theft, “That’s what it looks like, someone using my identity fraudulently, what have you, things happen.”  

After bodycam video reportedly showed it was Sammie Brown and there was no ID theft he posted online, “I was able to find out that this ticket in question did belong to me…given that it happened almost four years ago I had completely forgotten about it.”  

The city confirmed Brown resigned from his position.

Former Riviera Beach Chief Building Official and current community activist Ladi March Goldwire blames Brown’s behavior and the circumstances that led to his resignation on Botel.  

More: Riviera Beach Councilwoman Among People Questioned By FBI About Charity

“It was blatantly obvious how quiet she became as this situation began to take form,” Goldwire said.

Brown was out of control, she added.

Goldwire said she is suing a social media group that Brown is a member of, which posted she took a bribe from businessman Fain Lozman allowing him to build a fence on Singer Island.  

“I have never, ever, nor will I ever accept a bribe from anyone,” said Goldwire.  
Some of the criticism of Brown centers upon the fact that he made $58,000 last year for a part-time job.  That’s more than many full-time workers in the city, and thousands more than the four other legislative aides.  

The $14,000 in overtime payments for Smith last year appear to not be authorized under a policy set forth by City Manager Jonathan Evans.

In a memo last year, Evans wrote, “It is not permitted for legislative aides to exceed 30 hours per week unless explicitly authorized by the Office of the City Manager, adding, “overtime is highly discouraged.”  

Riviera Beach City Council member Julia Botel
Riviera Beach City Council member Julia Botel explains why she is confident that her charity was not involved in any wrongdoing.

Brown's $14,000 in overtime was 94% of all the overtime paid to legislative aides in the city.  

“When you make the comparison to some of the tenured police officers and first responders who struggle from a base pay standpoint, it can be a bit frustrating,” Goldwire said.

Other critics add Brown has gone from legislative aide to attack dog.  

“Tradrick, you are a bully, a liar, and quite frankly, a jerk.,” said Brown at a March 2 City Council meeting just days before city elections as he ripped into Councilman Tradrick McCoy, who frequently clashed with Botel.  

“You are an embarrassment to Riviera Beach,” added Brown, “And I see why your own family don’t like you.”  

“What it witnessed tonight, was awful,” countered Riviera Beach Mayor Ronnie Felder, who was infuriated by Brown’s remarks that he added he would fire Brown if he were on his staff.  

Contact 5 also wanted to ask Brown if he has been interviewed by the FBI like Botel.

She was queried about the charity she founded, Friends of the Riviera Beach Schools. Brown was active in the charity, even playing Santa Claus at the non-profit's holiday gift giveaways.  

Brown declined our request for an on-camera interview, and Botel did not return our call.  

Email the Contact 5 Investigators
Share your news tips and story ideas with WPTV's investigations team.