Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Andreana Jackson Pleads Guilty To Extortion

Former Commissioner Andreana Jackson
Commissioner from Treasure Island Andreana Jackson pled guilty today to charges of extortion and abusing her position. 

As part of her plea bargain, the court agreed to "withhold adjudication" on the extortion charge if Jackson resigned from the North Bay Village Commission, agreed to serve 100 hours of community service, pay $3,950 in fines and complete a year's probation.   "Withhold adjudication" is a fancy way of saying the conviction will not be noted. 

Jackson was represented by Miami powerhouse attorney Ben Kuehne and the matter was dealt with in minutes with the judge agreeing to the terms.  You can see it here in the Miami Herald.

In 2017, Jackson sponsored an Arts & Technology fair at Treasure Island Elementary School here in North Bay Village.   She collected about $13,500 and in turn was "paid" $2,950 for doing so, while representing the event as an official North Bay Village event.   The extortion part of the charges was allegedly that local developers were led to believe that their projects would be looked at more favorably if they contributed, while the abuse of influence charge was about presenting an opportunity for personal gain as a public service. 

The Miami Dade Commission on Ethics opened an investigation in 2018 and quickly involved the State Attorney's Office.

As of today, Jackson has resigned from the North Bay Village commission and accepted the terms of the plea bargain.

November 2017 - The Month That Changed Everything in North Bay Village

On November 4, 2017, then Commissioner Jackson sponsored the Art & Technology Fair at Treasure Island Elementary with the money from private donors.  

On November 12, 2017, I got a call from Commissioner Jackson, who I had strongly supported for commissioner and who I saw as a bulwark against the increasing chaos on the dais, asking me if I thought it was a good idea for her to support firing Robert Switkes, our then Village Attorney.   

I was shocked.  Switkes and Frank Rollason, the then Village Manager, were the firewall between the destructive impulses of former mayor Connie Leon Kreps.   As Charter staff, Switkes and Rollason could count on 3 commission votes to keep them in place.  

So I was shocked but I was not suspicious, not yet.   Jackson told me that she was very concerned that nothing was getting done and that Commissioner Hornsby was not clear if he was legally entitled to his seat and she just thought that Switkes might not be doing the job right.    

We talked for about an hour and I thought she was just bouncing the idea around, as we had done many times before on many subjects.  In fact, she promised me she was not going to go forward on it.  

On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, after making another assurance that she would not be pushing for that move, Jackson joined Mayor Connie Leon Kreps and Commissioner Jose Alvarez in a sneak firing of Switkes late in the evening, with no discussion and no consideration.  

Current Commissioner Jose Alvarez
Former Mayor Connie Leon Kreps
Former Commissioner Jackson

We know what followed.  A year of destruction.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars paid out to prevent employees from suing us.  A commission reduced to blithering nonsense. Hornsby's illegal removal and of course, Norman C. Powell advising on all of it.

November 2017 was the pivotal month when Andreana Jackson, a woman I had known to be involved, open minded and often acting as the sane counterbalance to a commission spinning out of control, decided to join the crazy.   Jackson quickly became good friends with the same mayor who a year before had smacked Jackson at a Children's Event (Police Report Here.) and had nothing but insults for Jackson.

Now I wonder, was it always about the money? 

Throughout 2018, Jackson's consumer credit lawsuits managed to get resolved.   Village Attorney Norman C. Powell even discussed providing her complimentary legal advice to deal with them while under oath in another case, the Noriega firing. 

In October of 2018, Jackson can be seen on camera breaking election laws to help Laura Cattabriga get elected.

I know I shouldn't feel bad for Andreana Jackson, and given the light treatment she received in court today, Jackson will probably be okay.

I don't know what goes through a person's mind that they can switch like that.  Was it the money because it was very little?  Was it the power because it accomplished nothing?  Was it the faux "respect" of the people who disliked her? 

Even after all the terrible things she did since November 2017 - attacking Yvonne Hamilton, defending the indefensible contract of Lewis Velken, obstructing the hard work of her peers in 2019 and 2020 as they tried to put things right, I still feel sad.

I'm not a great believer in redemption.  I know I should be but I believe we are the sums of our choices and Jackson's have been very bad choices indeed.  Yet I hope she can move somewhere else and rise above her past.  Jackson was once a good person.

Kevin Vericker
July 22, 2020

1 comment:

  1. I know you're no fan of Connie. Neither am I, but that has more to do with her relationship Norman Powell than her since I don't even know her. But the police report you posted is quite interesting to say the least. I'm really curious about the final attachment to the report, i.e., Connie's email to Amy Suarez. Have any of those allegations that Connie made about Andreana been substantiated? If not, then that doesn't bode well for Connie's character. If they are true, it says a lot more about Andreana's. Small town politics = big city crazy.


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