HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Opening statements began Monday in the trial of former Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman.
Bateman has pleaded not guilty following his August 2013 arrest on corruption charges.
“We are thrilled that the day is here,” is all Bateman’s attorney would allow his client to say to reporters Monday. “We’ve waited a year to prove our innocence.”
Prosecutors allege he failed to register as a lobbyist, misused campaign funds and used his elected position to land a secret consulting job with non-profit firm Community Health Care of South Florida Inc.
Bateman allegedly got paid $125 an hour for the illegal consulting job, while the company wanted him as mayor to push through their plans for three new clinics in Homestead.
The election law violations aren’t related to the corruption charges, according to state attorney spokeswoman Terry Chavez.
Bateman was first elected mayor of Homestead in 2009 and was re-elected in 2011.
He said his two jobs, as mayor and as a company consultant, were separate and legal.
“There are a lot of mistakes that government makes and that law enforcement makes, and this (case) is one of those,” said Ben Kuehne, Bateman’s attorney.