MIAMI — U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek’s former chief of staff received $13,000 from a developer accused of stealing funds from a failed biopharmaceutical complex, according to newly released records.
The Miami Herald reported Friday that the former aide, Anthony D. Williams, received the money to make a down payment on a home as Meek was championing the proposed Poinciana Park project.
Williams told the paper Meek was unaware the transaction.
According to The Miami Herald, police records show developer Dennis Stackhouse tried to curry favor with Meek while attempting to get his assistance in obtaining federal funding for the project in Liberty City, a blighted Miami neighborhood within the congressman’s district.
Meek, who is currently campaigning to become the state’s next U.S. senator, said his efforts to promote the project were to bring jobs to his district, not a political playback.
Stackhouse was arrested in October and charged with first-degree organized scheme to defraud and two counts of first-degree grand theft. He is accused of stealing nearly $1 million from the project, which was never built.
Stackhouse’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment. He told The Miami Herald he hadn’t received the documents, but that he was confident his client would be vindicated.
Meek secured a $72,750 earmark in the federal budget for the project in 2004 and unsuccessfully requested $4 million more two years later. He also obtained a $1 million grant for Miami Dade College to train workers for the center.
Meek told The Miami Herald he didn’t know about Williams’ mortgage deal and would have fired him then.
Williams, who is now an executive for the Westcare Foundation, told the paper that he had only a minor role in helping Stackhouse obtain funding. He said Stackhouse never got help that wouldn’t have been provided to any other project.
Williams said he sought help because of his poor credit rating and later repaid the loan.
Williams acknowledged that he “probably could have used better judgment, to see how this would be perceived. But at the time, it seemed pretty innocuous.”