The former mayor of Homestead, Steve Bateman, may finally be on his way to prison. This comes after being found guilty of corruption back in December of 2014. The accusations against Bateman alleged that he fraudulently utilized his position as mayor to pad his pockets while being on payroll for healthcare provider, Community Health of South Florida Inc (CHI). Bateman’s defense team appealed the conviction but the Third District Court of Appeals upheld the conviction Wednesday.
His defense lawyer on Wednesday called the decision “disappointing” but could not immediately say if he would appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. “We are evaluating our next steps,” said attorney Ben Kuehne.
The appellate court ruled that there was “sufficient competent evidence” to support Bateman’s conviction for unlawful compensation and failing to register as a lobbyist.
The former Homestead mayor was initially arrested at his home in August 2013 on public corruption charges. According to the Miami Herald, Bateman was charged with “unlawful compensation” for not being forthcoming about a secret $125-per-hour consulting job for a non-profit health chain while the company was seeking City of Homestead approval for expansion.
CBS Miami revealed that Bateman sought approval of a sewage project in South Dade that would have allowed CHI to expand by building a child crisis center in downtown Homestead. That project was stalled by the county due to a lack of connections to a sewage pump. The city agreed to build bigger sewage pumps but Miami-Dade County brought the facility’s design into question. Bateman used his position as the city’s mayor to beg Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to approve the project during a rare hour-long meeting. The disgraced mayor never revealed that CHI was paying him to meet and lobby Gimenez. According to the Associated Press, Bateman was paid $3,625 by CHI for meeting with Gimenez. CHI budgeted $120,000 for Bateman’s services.
“If he had let us know he was working for that company, we would have required him to register as a lobbyist before we’d even let him in the building,” Miami Dade Deputy Mayor Jack Osterholt told CBS Miami. “And he wouldn’t have gotten a meeting with the Mayor. We probably would have had him just meet with staff.”
Defense attorneys insisted that Bateman’s job was legitimate and wholly separate from his role as mayor.
It was not immediately clear when Miami-Dade prosecutors will ask a judge to take Bateman into custody to start serving his prison term.
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