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State Attorney threatens to file gag order against suspended Boca Raton mayor's attorney

Posted: 11:36 AM, Jul 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-26 17:55:44-04
State Attorney threatens to file gag order against suspended Boca Raton mayor's attorney

The attorney for suspended Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie is once again asking for all the charges against her to be dismissed. At the same Thursday hearing, Palm Beach County Public Corruption Prosecutor Brian Fernandes threatened to file a gag order against the defense.

The State Attorney's Office had revised the charges against Haynie earlier this month.

Haynie faces charges of official misconduct, perjury and corrupt misuse of an official position, among other things. Investigators say Haynie benefited financially and failed to disclose her relationship with top Boca Raton developers the Batmasians, before voting on proposals that benefited them. 

Investigators also say she failed to disclose $335,000 worth of additional income she made while serving as mayor, which is required by law.  Investigators say $83,000 of that money came from checks written by the Batmasians to Community Reliance, a property management company owned by Haynie and her husband.

Haynie's attorney told WPTV in court Thursday that even though they amended the charges against her, he claims prosecutors are still not clear about what exactly Haynie's alleged crimes are, so she can't properly defend herself. 

"So for instance she’s accused of making a false statement, there’s no identification of what that statement is. It’s pretty hard to defend against a false statement if you don’t know what it is," says Haynie's attorney Bruce Zimet. "Someone who is charged with a crime needs to know what that crime is, and that’s what the motion says. She needs to know what the crime is so she can probably defend against it."

In his motion, Zimet says defendants in Florida criminal cases, as part of their defense, are permitted to seek dismissal of charges before trial when “there are no material facts and the undisputed facts do not establish ... case of guilt against a defendant.”

Haynie's attorney said in court Thursday, Haynie is once again pleading not guilty to the revised charges. Haynie was present at the hearing after filing a waiver of appearance. 

A hearing for the motion to dismiss is set for September 11th.

Also at Thursday's hearing, prosecutor Brian Fernandes threatened to file a gag order if Haynie's attorney keeps telling the press the case was "politically based, and "there was no evidence to support the charges."

The judge said Fernandes was free to do so, although granting a gag order is "rare and unique."

Zimet said he did not cross a line with any statements.