BOCA RATON, Fla. - The new defense attorney for suspended Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie has filed a motion in court asking a judge to dismiss each of the seven charges against her.
Haynie turned herself in on April 24 and is charged with four felonies and three misdemeanors, including official misconduct, perjury and misuse of public office.
She has entered a written plea of not guilty.
Investigators say Haynie benefited financially and failed to disclose her relationship with top Boca 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 defense attorney, Bruce Zimet, of Fort Lauderdale, says prosecutors got their information wrong in her arrest report (also known as the charging document).
Haynie is charged with 3 counts of official misconduct. But in his motion, Zimet says on 2 of those counts, Haynie was charged with the 2016 version of "official misconduct, even though prosecutors say the alleged crimes happened in 2015. Zimet argues that "the defendant cannot be charged with a non-existent crime."
Charging Haynie under the 2016 statute does make it easier for prosecutors to hold public officials accountable for official misconduct. In the 2016 wording, prosecutors need only show Haynie "knowingly and intentionally" committed official misconduct. In 2015, the statute read it had to be "corrupt intent."
Zimet says because of this change to the "essential element of the offenses," the official misconduct charges must be dismissed.
Zimet goes on to say in his motion, that prosecutors failed to provide factual information for a third official misconduct charge, and also fail to say exactly what false statement Haynie made to be charged with perjury.
In her arrest report, investigators say Haynie made false statements regarding the property management company she and her husband founded (Community Reliance), the existence of another Golf Software company, and several additional sources of income. But Haynie's attorney alleges that description isn't specific enough, and until he knows the actual false statements, he cannot defend her correctly.
Now, if a judge approves the motion, prosecutors will have a chance to "amend the information" described in Haynie's charges, so the case does not get dismissed altogether.
Haynie is set to appear before a Palm Beach County judge on Thursday and has waived her appearance.
The Governor's Office suspended Susan Haynie from her mayoral position days after she was arrested.