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Former Brevard lawmaker, an ex-lawman, arrested for bribery

by John Kennedy | August 15th, 2013

Mitch Needelman, a former Brevard County Clerk of the Courts and a longtime state legislator, was arrested Thursday on bribery charges, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Needelman, 60, is a former Florida Marine Patrol officer, who served a decade as a Republican in the state House, representing the Melbourne area. The FDLE said that while clerk, Needelman entered into a $8.53 million contract with a company, BlueWare with the agreement that a portion of that money would be funneled back into his reelection campaign.

BlueWare won the lucrative contract to digitize Brevard County court records even though the company didn’t have the equipment to scan the documents, FDLE said. Needelman’s one-time business partner, William Matthew Dupree, a lobbyist, also was charged in the scheme.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Rose Harr, BlueWare’s chief executive officer.

“The investigation shows Needelman, Dupree and Harr swindled Brevard County taxpayers  out of millions of dollars,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.  “Although not the final chapter, today’s arrests should present a degree of satisfaction to Brevard County taxpayers.”

Needelman lost his re-election bid in last summer’s primary for court clerk. Before leaving office, Needelman obtained a $5.6 million loan through the clerk’s office that was steered to BlueWare — cash Brevard taxpayers are now obligated to repay, FDLE said.

While the alleged bribery was underway, BlueWare also was poised to rake in more cash from the state, according to the watchdog group Integrity Florida.

Enterprise Florida, the state’s development arm, offered BlueWare $760,000 tax refund last year and a separate $550,000 from the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund on the promise the company would create 190 new jobs.

Enterprise Florida, however, said Thursday that no state money has gone to BlueWare because the job-creating milestones had not been met.

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10 Responses to “Former Brevard lawmaker, an ex-lawman, arrested for bribery”

  1. Searcher1 Says:

    So, I bet comments went WAY DOWN after the POST went to paid subscriptions. I used to read the Post every day, but now I check in once or twice a week.
    So, it doesn’t shock me that a former Law Enforcement officer and Republican committed fraud. After all, he spent a decade in the state legislature….

  2. Carrie Says:

    HE’S A REPUBLICAN – WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED?

  3. Mike Hunt Says:

    @ CARRIE

    Know what surprises me sir? It surprises me that Mr. Wonka cornholed poor little Charlie in that glass elevator and no one says a word. Not one word! But god-forbide you come home from “work” with a few irreversible Bukkake stains on your trousers! Oh boy, my “uncle” was not too pleased with me. I had to take off all my soiled clothes so he could “bathe” me while I knoshed on some chicken nuggest.

  4. Those Darn Republicans Says:

    Yup, Carrie, you’re so right. Those corrupt Repthuglicans, like Jesse Jr., are a stain on our country. What’s that, you say? Jesse Jr. is a Democrap?

  5. Carrie Says:

    REMEMBERING WHEN: So Rick Scott praised BlueWare’s move in a statement last year, saying the company would create 190 jobs in a four-year period.

    “Yet Today Folks – announces a great win for the Space Coast, as well as for the entire state.”Harr turned herself in to Seminole County’s jail and was released after posting a $12,000 bond, a spokeswoman for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday.

    Florida Department of Law enforcement also announced Thursday that Needelman, a former law enforcement officer of 28 years and a state representative and the court clerk from Brevard County, was charged with bid rigging, bid tampering, lying while under oath and bribery and or extortion.

    The charges are related to a multimillion-dollar contract Needelman signed with BlueWare in 2012 when he was Brevard County’s elected court clerk.
    Needelman, 60, is accused of making a secret deal with the company for a massive document-scanning project in exchange for donations to his campaign for re-election, which he lost last year.

    Needelman, a powerful Republican and former 28 year veteran of the Florida Marine Patrol officer, was charged with official misconduct for allegedly directing employees to use private email accounts to circumvent public records laws,” FDLE said

    Also charged was his former business partner, lobbyist William Matthew Dupree, 47, who claimed ina written statement that the idea was concocted by Needelman, and that he was an innocent participant in the skim to awarded a potential $1.21 million incentive package to move to Brevard under Florida’s Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund and Quick Action Closing Fund programs.

    So did Scott subtract those 190 Jobs from his facebook page?

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