|Mayor Ron Clifton|
Former South Daytona Mayor Ron Clifton left for the Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola on Wednesday and former special magistrate Jerome Mitchell -- a disbarred attorney -- is expected to arrive there today. The men were sentenced by U.S. Judge Mary Scriven for their roles in a bribery scandal that shocked South Daytona last year. The men's prison is just outside the Pensacola Naval Air Station.
Clifton was sentenced to 24 months and Mitchell to 37 months. The bribes -- $7,500 paid to Clifton and $5,000 to Mitchell -- were given in exchange for Clifton and Mitchell agreeing to reduce city code liens lodged against the River Club Condominium, 3131 S. Ridgewood Ave.
The maximum penalty for bribery is up to 10 years in prison.
A confidential informant sent in by the FBI paid both men after meeting with them several times. On each occasion, the informant was equipped with a wire and a small camera, according to court documents and court proceedings.
|Jerome Mitchell -- a disbarred attorney|
It has never been revealed why the FBI targeted the two men, who were once close friends.
The confidential informant's cover was blown by Clifton at his sentencing hearing in federal court in Orlando on Sept. 15, when he blurted out the man's first name in a moment of raw emotion.
The informant was identified as Stuart Buchanan, a Brevard County planner who has been working with the FBI for several months on various investigations. Buchanan has also worked for the cities of South Daytona, Holly Hill and Daytona Beach.
Both Mitchell and Clifton accepted the cash in exchange for Mitchell's guarantee that the $241,000 in liens piled against the River Club property would be lowered. Mitchell then lowered those liens to $12,500 at a code enforcement hearing that Buchanan attended, records show.
The Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola is a minimum-security facility.
|Federal Prison Camp In Pensacola florida|
Clifton left for Pensacola on Wednesday and Mitchell is expected to report sometime this afternoon, said his attorney Mike Lambert.
Scriven had ordered both men to surrender today, but Clifton decided to go early.
"He wanted to go early and get things started," said Clifton's attorney James Dickson Crock. "He wants to get on with his life."
But not before he had a small gathering at a Port Orange establishment.
Clifton's wife, Sherry Clifton, sent out an invitation of sorts asking friends to report to the First Turn Steakhouse and Lounge in Port Orange on Tuesday night.
In the invite Sherry Clifton wrote: "For all of you that know Ron and I so well, you really didn't think that I was going to let him go without a party!!
|Attorney Mike Lambert|
In a "P.S." in the invitation, Sherry Clifton also wrote: "He can't take any gifts with him on Wednesday!! LOL."