Published On: Fri, Apr 2nd, 2021

Ex-Boca Raton Mayor Haynie gets probation following misconduct probe

By: Dale King

Former Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie, who was suspended from that office in 2018 in connection with charges stemming from a probe of alleged official corruption, was sentenced to a year of probation in Palm Beach County Court Thursday after pleaded guilty two of seven charges.

Her attorney, Bruce Zimet, told the Boca Raton Tribune by telephone Thursday afternoon that Haynie pleaded guilty to misuse of public office and failure to disclose voting conflicts, both first-degree misdemeanors, before Circuit Judge Jeffrey Gillen.

Haynie, who served on the Boca Planning and Zoning Board and City Council starting in 2000 before winning the mayor’s seat in 2014, was initially accused of four felonies and three misdemeanors, said Zimet.  “The other charges were dismissed,” he added.

As part of a plea deal reached with the state attorney, Haynie, 65, will serve no time in jail. She will have to pay a $1,000 fine, said her attorney, and must complete 100 hours of community service. During her year of probation, she may not seek elective office. 

The former mayor also submitted a letter of apology “to the residents of Boca Raton,” Zimet said. In part, she told her former constituents that Boca residents “should accept nothing less than the highest level of ethics from their elected officials.”

“I failed to live up to that standard and today accepted responsibility by entering my guilty plea,” she wrote. 

“The state attorney’s offer was fair and reasonable,” said Zimet.  “The resolution was in the best interest of all parties,” adding that the most serious charges in the case were dropped.

A series of investigative stories written by a Palm Beach Post reporter in 2017 led to allegations that Haynie and her husband, Neil, collected thousands of dollars from Boca real estate moguls James and Marta Batmasian through the Haynie’s property management firm. The probe claimed that the money was not reported on Susan Haynie’s state disclosure forms. 

She pleaded guilty to misuse of public office and failure to disclose a voting conflict. These allegations stem from four votes she took as mayor in 2016 to 2017 to approve projects that benefited the Batmasians, who are Boca’s largest commercial property owners.

Former Gov. Rick Scott removed Haynie from office in 2018. Scott Singer, who, at the time, was deputy mayor, took over the executive chair as interim mayor. He was elected mayor in a special election in August 2018 and solidified his hold on the city’s top elective office when he won the seat in the regular municipal election in March 2020.

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