After more than four years, and three North Miami mayors, the Ricardo Brutus case closed Thursday morning when he agreed to serve three months in jail followed by four years of probation.
Brutus, 35, the nephew of former North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre, pleaded guilty to unlawful compensation stemming from his March 2011 arrest and to two counts of organized fraud and practicing law without a license from a May 2012 arrest. The three other charges in his 2012 arrest were thrown out.
He was granted a “withhold of adjudication,” so the charges won’t officially appear on his record even though he pleaded guilty.
As part of the agreement, Brutus also has to complete 250 hours of community service and pay back more than $21,000 in legislative costs at a rate of $595 per month.
Larry Handfield, his attorney, said that it took a lot of work to reach this resolution and Brutus recognized his guilt.
“He regrets his actions and obviously wants to close this chapter in his life and move on,” Handfield said.
The case goes back to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation and a video that shows Brutus accepting $4,000 from Shlomo Chelminsky, a North Miami businessman who owns several properties. Chelminsky cooperated with the FDLE investigation and never faced charges.
Brutus took the payments and in return said he could sway the city council’s vote on privatizing waste services in North Miami. He was also serving as Pierre’s campaign manager in his reelection bid.
Councilman Scott Galvin, who provided information to FDLE and the Miami state attorney’s office that aided in the arrest, said he was relieved to see the case closed after so many years.
“I think it continues to show that there will be a price to pay for those who want to flaunt the rules in North Miami,” Galvin said.
He said he thinks the sentence is fair given the amount Brutus was initially paid by Chelminsky.
“I think it’s a very fair sentence, it’s not something he just gets to step over and keep moving,” Galvin said.