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Florida City mayor asks public to contribute to defense fund for ex-Homestead mayor

@MrMikeVasquez

As he faces pending corruption charges, former Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman is apparently running out of cash. Lucky for him, Bateman hasn’t run out of friends.

In a letter that is now making its way around town, Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace is asking the public to contribute to Bateman’s legal defense fund.

“Steve has always been there for us; it’s time to be there for him,” Wallace wrote. “And he needs our help NOW.”

Bateman was arrested on corruption charges in August after securing a $125-an-hour job with a healthcare company that had business in front of the City Council. His case remains pending.

In an interview, Wallace acknowledged that he and Bateman are friends, but he said his letter was motivated by a larger principle: that all people are entitled to a strong legal defense.

Wallace, an attorney, noted that he spent seven years working as a public defender. Wallace said that the very poor have access to public defenders, and the rich can afford attorneys, but those in the middle can often be wiped out by legal costs.

“Lost in the middle is that small business man, which is what Steve was and is,” Wallace said.

--MICHAEL VASQUEZ

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