The FBI is establishing a full-time, permanent public-corruption squad in Palm Beach County, after a series of criminal cases that brought down two county and two West Palm Beach city commissioners. “We are putting resources where the crime is,” said FBI special agent in charge Tim Delaney. He said the expansion also was a result of the county’s population growth, but acknowledged that the four new agents — three investigators and a supervisor– would focus only on corruption by elected officials.
The announcement came Tuesday along with formal charges against former County Commissioner Warren Newell, who agreed to plead guilty to fraud for abusing his position to siphon off nearly $500,000 through real estate deals involving the county. The corruption cases began last year with West Palm Beach City Commissioner Ray Liberti, who got 18 months for taking $66,000 and an expensive watch as bribes.