A federal indictment was returned today charging former Miami City Commissioner Art Teele and an electrical contractor with conspiring to defraud Miami-Dade County of millions of dollars in minority contracts at Miami International Airport, according to sources familiar with the alleged scheme.
Teele, who was recently convicted in state court of attempting to assault a police officer in an unrelated public corruption case, acted as a consultant for electrical contractor Dewitt Jackson Maxwell, according to the indictment.
Teele was once a powerhouse on the Miami-Dade County Commission. The indictment alleges that he helped Maxwell's company, Fisk Electrical, obtain airport contracts. But Maxwell's company -- not the minority subcontractor FLP Enterprises -- did the work, a violation of federal law, according to the indictment.
In effect, FLP Enterprises was a straw for Maxwell's business so it could obtain the lucrative electrical contracts at the airport, prosecutors allege.
Both defendants have surrendered for their first federal court appearance at 1:30 pm today.
The indictment charges them with conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud and money laudering.
Maxwell's lawyer, Richard Sharpstein, said his client was innocent.
''This is shocking and appalling to Jack Maxwell,'' Sharpstein said. ''He has built Fisk into one of the county's most reputable electrical contractors.''
Maxwell recently resigned from Fisk, based in Medley. It's a subsidary of a Houston-based company.
The investigation was a joint effort of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, Miami-Dade Police, FBI and IRS.
Construction work planned at the Airport by a firm at the center of the Teele case has been put on hold by the county and could be canceled.
Teele and an electrical contractor were indicted July 14 on federal charges of lying to get more than $20 million in contracts at Miami International Airport.
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