Crime

No dismissal of charges for Homestead mayor

Ex-Homestead mayor Steve Bateman in court, Monday, September 15, 2014.
Ex-Homestead mayor Steve Bateman in court, Monday, September 15, 2014. MIAMI HERALD FILE

A judge on Tuesday declined to dismiss charges against ex-Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman, who was convicted by jury of holding an illegal job with a health-care company.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Robert Luck, however, delayed a decision on declaring Bateman guilty to give prosecutors more time to respond to a separate defense request to outright acquit the former mayor.

The judge will decide Oct. 30. If the verdict stands, Bateman would be sentenced in the following weeks.

Jurors convicted Bateman, 59, of two felony counts of illegal compensation, plus two misdemeanor counts.

First voted in as mayor in 2009, then reelected two years later, Bateman was arrested in August 2013 as he was running for reelection in the South Miami-Dade city. He lost.

In early 2013, Bateman had received a secret gig with Community Health of South Florida, which needed government help in obtaining permits to pave the way for construction of a new clinic in Downtown Homestead.

Prosecutors said Bateman wielded his position as mayor to lobby for the construction of a new sewage pump station that would benefit the new clinic, even meeting with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez in February 2013, never revealing his $125 an hour job with the company.

Miami-Dade prosecutors say Bateman billed for 29 hours of consulting work on the pump station issue in February 2013, including his interactions with Gimenez as well as the city’s engineer — all done, at least outwardly, in his capacity as mayor.

Before trial, Bateman’s lawyers asked Judge Luck to dismiss the charges, saying the side job was perfectly legitimate and there was no evidence of “corrupt intent.” The judge decided to wait until after the trial to rule on the motion to dismiss.

On Tuesday, Luck ruled that prosecutors had provided “sufficient evidence” to have presented to the jury that “Bateman exerted his influence” as mayor.

In an eight-page order released Tuesday, the judge also pointed out that Community Health, despite concerns about Bateman billing for time in which he worked as mayor, nevertheless paid his invoice.

In a separate legal request, the defense is asking Luck for a “judgment of acquittal,” saying prosecutors didn’t actually prove their case during the trial.

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