Corruption crackdown in Palm Beach County

Mary McCarty with husband
Mary McCarty with husband

By Chuck Weber bio | email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Crack down on corruption: That's the suggestion of a Palm Beach County grand jury.

Wednesday the county's State Attorney, Michael McAuliffe, released the grand jury's report. It calls for big changes to weed out waste and abuse of office.

"This is a clarion call for change," said McAuliffe, flanked by leaders in his anti-corruption unit. "The grand jury found that we have inadequate processes to find and hold accountable, those who commit waste, fraud, or abuse."

The grand jury investigation, led by McAuliffe's office, comes after the prosecution of a third county commissioner, Mary McCarty. She recently pleaded guilty to federal charges of misusing her office. Two commission counterparts, Warren Newell and Tony Masilotti, previously took guilty pleas on similar accusations and are now in prison.

State Attorney McAuliffe explained the grand jury wasn't looking for specific acts of corruption. Instead they explored how the county uncovers public misdeeds and deals with them.

The grand jury's recommendations include: better laws, more money for State Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Office to battle public corruption, and changes in the way the County buys land and awards bond contracts. The report also supports creation of new agencies modeled after Miami-Dade County's Office of Inspector General and Ethics Commission. Those entities seek out public corruption and waste.

"It's specific about providing a road map to the future," said McAuliffe, referring to the report. He said the proposed changes "will result in a renewed sense of confidence in our county governance."

However, recently some current county commissioners expressed concerns about the costs associated with creating new agencies like an inspector general's office.