Joy Cooper, mayor of Hallandale Beach, Florida has been arrested and charged with three felony offenses. Following an FBI investigation which dated back to May of 2012, her charges include money laundering, official misconduct and exceeding limits on campaign contributions.
The announcement came out of the Broward State Attorney’s Office on Thursday.
Each charge is a third-degree felony and carries a punishment of up to five years in jail. Cooper was also charged with a first-degree misdemeanor of soliciting contributions in a government building, which is punishable by up to one year in jail.
Cooper, who took office in 2005, was elected to the Hallandale Beach City Commission in 1999. She has been under scrutiny while serving as mayor. In November 2017, she had her keys confiscated after heavily slurring her words during a meeting. When calls for her removal came, she stated that she was suffering from an illness contracted in Mexico and was perfectly capable of maintaining her position.
News of the mayor’s arrest compounds the issues surrounding the Hallandale commission. The group has been plagued by politically-motivated arguing and public controversies.
The commission has been lacking a member since August 2017, when then-commissioner Anthony Sanders resigned in the midst of a Broward Inspector General probe.
Cooper turned herself in to authorities. While she claims her innocence, she released this message:
“Friends and Colleagues:
As many of you know, I have served our city of Hallandale Beach for over 18 years. I love being a public servant and have always been committed to the betterment of our community.
I have dedicated my time and energy to focus on performing all of my duties with utmost integrity.
This note is to inform you that the Broward County state attorney’s office has decided to charge me with allegations of campaign finance violations.
I can assure you that I will vigorously fight these allegations in court.
I am thankful to be blessed with an amazing family who supports me, and people like you that know I care deeply for Hallandale Beach, a place I have called home for over 26 years.”
We will continue to follow this story.