Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Stephen Kunz, a lead prosecutor in Tallahassee's public corruption cases, retires. (Tallahassee Democrat)

As Jimmy President Carter said, "I see no reasons why big shot crooks should go free, and the poor ones go to jail. 

Congratulations to federal prosecutor Stephen M. Kunz, Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida (Tallahassee) on his retirement after some 46 years as a federal and state prosecuting attorney helping bring the Rule of Law to stinky corners of our State Capitol, while helping incarcerate corrupt greedy public officials (like Scott Mattox, former Tallahassee Mayor and former Florida Democratic Party Chair).  

Undercover FBI agents posing as crooked developers: we need more of that here in St. Augustine and St. Johns County.  

Meanwhile, our City and County Commissioners must stop having ex parte meetings with developers unless they are open to the public and preserved on videotape.  (I've told Commissioners if they don't videotape those ex parte meetings with developers, the FBI might do so -- just ask Scott Mattox!).

From Tallahassee Democrat: 

Stephen Kunz, a lead prosecutor in Tallahassee's public corruption cases, retires

Jeff Burlew
Tallahassee Democrat

Stephen Kunz, one of the lead prosecutors in the public corruption cases against former Tallahassee Mayors Andrew Gillum and Scott Maddox, has retired after a decades-long and at times controversial career.

Kunz, who served as assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Florida following other assignments elsewhere, stepped down at the end of 2022. His retirement surfaced in court documents in an explosive Lynn Haven corruption case marked by accusations from the defense of government wrongdoing.

He played a key role in the prosecution of all five people charged thus far in Operation Capital Currency, the FBI probe that saw undercover agents posing as crooked developers penetrate the dark side of Tallahassee’s political scene.

In 2017, Kunz’s name appeared on the first federal grand jury subpoenas in the investigation at City Hall. In 2021, he delivered opening statements in the bribery trial of Maddox co-defendant John “J.T.” Burnette, summing up both the case and white-collar crime in general.

The ABCs of a corruption case:Your guide to the businesses and people linked to Scott Maddox

Stephen Kunz, attorney for the prosecution, questioned Charles Simon who was helping with a possible sale involving the DoubleTree Hotel at the trial of J.T. Burnette on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Subscriber exclusive:Torn from the Andrew Gillum indictment: Five key takeaways from the federal corruption case

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a case about corruption in the city of Tallahassee,” he said. “The motivation of the corrupt activity is something as old as man has been on Earth: Greed. Pure, unadulterated desire for money.”

Kunz and fellow prosecutors scored convictions against the first three defendants charged in the investigation: Maddox and his aide Paige Carter-Smith, who pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in 2018, and Burnette, who was found guilty at trial. All three were sentenced to federal prison.

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