McCarty resigns commission seat; will plead guilty - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

McCarty resigns commission seat; will plead guilty

By Chuck Weber email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-Mary McCarty resigned her post as Palm Beach County commissioner on Thursday. In her resignation letter, McCarty said she would plead guilty to federal charges of honest services fraud, and expects to serve a "significant term of incarceration." CBS 12 News has learned McCarty's husband Kevin will also be charged with a lesser crime.

The U. S. Attorney's Office has called a news conference for Friday morning in West Palm Beach. There prosecutors are expected to announce filing charges against the McCarty's.

At Thursday morning's scheduled meeting of commissioners sitting as the zoning board, McCarty's chair was empty.

"Commissioner McCarty called me and a number of high level staff members into her office this morning," explained County administrator Bob Weisman. There McCarty announced she was resigning, effective at 5:00 p.m., and was eventually headed to prison. "She was upset, but she was composed," said Weisman.

"It's a shock," continued Weisman. "I've worked with Commissioner McCarty for 18 years. She was a very dynamic commissioner."

McCarty's fall had been rumored since federal agents raided her home this past September. In her resignation letter, McCarty says she failed to disclose receiving free and discounted resort hotel rooms and services. More important McCarty says she failed to recuse herself from votes involving her husband Kevin's bond writing firm. She says she cast numerous votes that helped the company and ultimately she and her husband too.

In her resignation letter, McCarty wrote, "I never set out to commit any violation," but later stated, "I, on multiple occasions, opted to cut corners and bend rules."

"You know it breaks my heart," was the response of McCarty's former colleague, Commissioner Addie Greene. "She was one of the commissioners I was very close to. I know she was under investigation, but I never dreamed it would come to this."

Commission chair Jeff Koons added, "She was a very effective and efficient county commissioner, representing the south end of the county. I'm very sad."

But McCarty was also known for her frequent sharp tongue at commission meetings. Lake Worth Mayor Jeff Clemens recalled a comment that caused hard feelings in his city.

"I don't know the exact quote," said Clemens, "but I think it was something to the effect, 'If Lake Worth can't provide fire protection for its citizens, then it can burn.'" Still Clemens said he takes no delight in McCarty's troubles.

Mayor Clemens and Commission chair Koons agreed elected officials would take heed. Koons said officials will have to work harder to meet the standards of federal law. "She said, 'I was not aware of some of the stuff, and then I cut some corners.' Elected officials can't do that anymore," said Koons.

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