Law enforcement officials in Florida arrested Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper on Thursday after an FBI sting caught her allegedly involved in money laundering and corruption-related activities.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office said that Cooper surrendered on charges of "money laundering, official misconduct and exceeding limits on campaign contributions, all of which are third-degree felonies," ABC 10 reported. "Prosecutors also charged her with soliciting contributions in a government building, which is a first-degree misdemeanor."
Florida Governor Rick Scott suspended Cooper from her role as Mayor of Hallandale Beach on Friday following her arrest.
"Cooper is prohibited from performing any official act, duty, or function of public office; from receiving any pay or allowance; and from being entitled to any of the emoluments or privileges of public office during the period of this suspension," Scott wrote in an executive order. ABC 10 adds:
According to the Broward County state attorney's office, FBI agents posing as developers and business owners met with Cooper and former attorney and lobbyist Alan Koslow, who pleaded guilty to a federal money-laundering conspiracy charge in a case with the FBI that was part of their "Red Chip" sting operation to target political corruption in South Florida.
Investigator Kate Abrahamsen reported Cooper solicited campaign contributions from Koslow that exceeded the legal limit, accepted money that she believed were the proceeds of unlawful activity and falsified campaign treasury reports in September and October of 2012.
Abrahmsen reported Koslow was unaware that the wealthy California land developers seeking political favor for commercial land projects were really undercover FBI agents. He reportedly also set up meetings with Cooper at her home, at the Flash Back Diner, at the Diplomat and handed her 20 checks "from a bunch of Russian names" at a Hallandale Chamber of Commerce event.
The felonies Cooper faces carry a maximum of a five-year prison sentence each and the misdemeanor a one-year sentence. Cooper has been the Mayor of Hallandale Beach for approximately 13 years and previously served on the city's commission.