Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie was arrested on Tuesday on corruption charges.
Haynie, 62, is being charged with four felonies and three misdemeanors, including corrupt misuse of office, perjury, and official misconduct. She was released from Palm Beach County Jail after posting $12,000 bond. Her attorney, Leonard Feuer, told the press that his client vehemently denies the allegations and is mounting a vigorous defense.
According to the arrest report, Haynie failed to report $335,108 in income on her state-mandated disclosure forms. This included compensation from the largest commercial landowners in the city, James and Marta Batmasian.
The perjury charge alleges she lied under oath to county ethics investigators about compensation she received from Batmasian’s company.
The Palm Beach County state attorney’s office began investigating Haynie in March 2017 after receiving complaints that she “used her position to vote on issues having a favorable financial impact on a developer who owns a substantial amount of property” in the city.
The investigation was launched after a Palm Beach Post investigation linked Haynie to Batmasian and documented a dozen votes she took on his projects that allegedly afforded him a “special financial benefit.”
After one such vote, Batmasian reportedly sold property for twice what he paid for. In another vote, Haynie was one of three council members who voted for a Batmasian proposal, while two others opposed it. Had Haynie recused herself, a tie vote would have stopped the proposal.
Haynie falsified her state financial disclosure forms for three years in a row by “omitting the fact that she was being compensated” by Batmasian. The investigation revealed that Haynie failed to disclose $335,000 in income on her forms, and one-third of that amount allegedly came from Batmasian or his businesses.
Haynie has been active in Boca Raton politics for 17 years. She was first elected to the city council in 2000 and after serving several council terms, she was elected mayor in 2014 and again in 2017.
She formally withdrew her bid for county commission after her arrest, but she has not resigned as mayor. Although three council members have called for her resignation, the city council can’t remove a mayor. Only the governor can suspend or remove her from office.
Gov. Rick Scott removed Haynie from office on Friday. He typically suspends elected officials facing criminal charges.
“It is in the best interests of the residents of the city of Boca Raton, and the citizens of the state of Florida, that Susan Ince Haynie be immediately suspended from the public office, which she now holds, upon the grounds set forth in this executive order,” Scott’s order said.
Less than an hour after the governor declared Haynie’s suspension, the city council announced that Deputy Mayor Scott Singer would serve as mayor until a special election later this year. This is in accordance with the city charter.
“We’ve been through some trying days. We will move forward,” Singer said at a news conference on Friday evening. “Business has continued as usual and there will be no interruption.”