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Town’s Second Elected Mayor, Like Its First, Indicted

April 15, 1988

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) _ This Fort Lauderdale suburb is 2-for-2 when it comes to electing mayors.

The first elected mayor was indicted four times before he was convicted of fraud and extortion conspiracy. The second and current elected mayor, Larry Hoffman, turned himself in Friday, the day after he was indicted on theft charges by a Broward County grand jury.

He was booked at the county jail and released on a $2,000 bond, said Dave Casey, a spokesman for the state attorney’s office. An arraignment date was not set.

The grand theft count, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, charges that Hoffman last year illegally obtained a city- owned chain saw worth at least $300, Casey said.

The petty theft charge accuses Hoffman of ordering workers at the city garage to repair a riding lawn mower owned by his daughter, said Casey. The petty theft charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The alleged incident took place between August 1986 and February 1987.

Asked on his way into the jail if was confident he’d be vindicated, Hoffman’s only reply was, ″Very.″

Hoffman, 62, a retired New York police officer and self-emloyed insurnce appraiser, was elected to the non-partisan post in this town of 40,000 in September 1985.

Hoffman has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing since the allegations became public early this year. He voluntarily testified before the grand jury for nearly three hours Wednesday.

Former city garage employee Chris Green, who maintains he resigned from his job because he was harassed for tattling on the mayor, said after the indictment was issued that ″justice has been done. We’ve been telling the truth from the beginning.″

Hoffman, the second elected mayor in Sunrise’s 21-year history, also is the second elected mayor to be indicted while in office.

Former Mayor John Lomelo was indicted four times during his 18-year term.

In the first three cases, he was acquitted or cleared by a judge. But in 1985, he was convicted by a federal jury of extortion conspiracy for forcing a developer to pay a friend $30,000 in exchange for his support on a nursing home project. He was also convicted in a $52,000 mail fraud scheme.

Lomelo was released from prison last year.

Jon Peck, Gov. Bob Martinez’s press secretary, said the governor had not received official word of the indictment and had not acted to suspend Hoffman from office. Such suspensions are required when a mayor is indicted on a felony count.

″The governor can’t suspend unless and until we have paperwork,″ Peck said. ″Clearly, if there is an indictment and he is suspended, the governor will move quickly to fill the vacancy.″

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