A former North Miami Beach mayor, who was charged with breaking campaign rules during his failed bid for mayor in 2011 by accepting extra bus bench advertising, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single charge of unlawful compensation.
Myron Rosner, 55, will serve three years probation and is also banned from running for public office during the probationary period. Probation can be terminated after two years if he follows all the rules.
“It’s in my best interest,” Rosner told Circuit Judge Martin Bidwell.
Rosner's attorney Ben Kuehne said Rosner accepted responsibility “to put the long-ago matter behind him to focus on his health, rebuilding his business and attending to his family.”
“We are appreciative of Judge Bidwell and the State Attorney in assisting in a fair resolution of a complicated case," he said. "This resolution does not in any way undermine the extensive good work that Mr. Rosner has done."
Rosner was arrested in 2012 and charged with several felony and misdemeanor counts, including unlawful compensation for official behavior, grand theft and falsely reporting campaign expenditures.
In 2011, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics received a complaint stemming from bus bench ads all around the city. The ads featured a picture of Rosner and the words, “Happy Holidays from Mayor Myron Rosner.” According to the State Attorney’s Office’s close-out memo, the complaint alleged that Rosner received free advertising.
Rosner hired Martin Outdoor Media, with whom the city had a contract, and R&D Printing for the ads. The ads were supposed to run from Dec. 15, 2010 to Jan. 15, 2011, but stayed up until Feb. 1.
Scott Martin, director of Martin Outdoor Media, said Rosner demanded the extra time, said a State Attorney’s Office close-out memo. Later, Rosner spent $4,500 on bus bench ads , but then told Martin to contribute $4,500 to his political action committee, the memo said.
Again, he told Martin to keep the ads up longer than he paid for, according to the memo.
Martin told investigators he felt threatened that he’d lose the city’s contract unless he complied, an assistant state attorney wrote.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The reason for the plea agreement, according to a footnote in the closeout memo: The witness “gave two disparate statements to detectives.”
“Mr. Martin indicated that he was not truthful in his first statement because he had been in contact with Mr. Rosner and feared losing his contract with the city if he told the truth. Once Rosner lost his reelection bid, Mr. Martin felt safe in coming forward since Rosner could no longer have an impact on his city contract.”