Just because the FBI launched an investigation into redevelopment deals involving prominent business owners and developers in the state capital doesn’t mean the feds would eventually put someone in handcuffs.
But, as Tallahassee Democrat publisher Skip Foster wrote yesterday, “the chance of that happening is very, very low.”
With two of his best reporters – Jeff Burlew and Jeff Schweers – tracking every development in the probe of the City of Tallahassee, Foster probably knows better than anyone the likelihood of indictments being handed down.
(Pay attention to this not-so-subtle paragraph from Foster: “And I hasten to add this – there is a lot … I mean A LOT … of information we have that clears a high bar, but not quite the highest bar that we have set for ourselves. We have chosen not to publish such information in an effort to err on the side of truth, fairness and accuracy.”)
The odds of someone being arrested had to increase exponentially on Wednesday after the USA Today gave the investigation front page treatment.
“Buff, bearded and handsome, Atlanta developer Mike Miller sat sipping a cocktail one afternoon last summer outside the spiffy Power Plant Cafe in the city’s new central park, … spinning his grand plans to redevelop a not-yet-gentrified block in the shadow of Florida’s Capitol.
“The meeting was one of many Miller had with local elected officials and hot-shot developers, beginning in 2015, when he rolled into the steamy, Spanish-moss draped seat of Florida state government. … Tallahassee was hungry for the likes of Miller, an out-of-towner willing to spend millions to revitalize downtown as the capital city ached to rebrand itself as a place open for business.
But Miller was not what he appeared. After spending nearly two years infiltrating the burgeoning ranks of up-and-coming entrepreneurs and wooing the town’s politicians over wine and tapas, he vanished. … Miller … was an undercover FBI agent, … the linchpin in an elaborate scheme to ferret out public corruption, which could lead to huge political shake-ups.”
That reads like a Carl Hiassen novel. Only the story has yet to arrive at the third act which is one or more of Tallahassee’s elite doing a perp walk.
This case has become so high-profile that the FBI can’t not indict someone.
How does the special agent in charge explain to his bosses, “Well, yeah, you know that major investigation we launched in the Florida capital … the one that was on the cover of the newspaper that gets delivered to every hotel guest in the country … well … um … we’ve determined that nothing really happened. Case closed.”
Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
That’s not how the FBI works.
It doesn’t embed one of its undercover agents for two years only to come up empty-handed.
Someone’s going to emergency. Someone’s going to jail.