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For more than three years, ex-Homestead mayor Steven Bateman remained free on bond as his lawyer fought to overturn his conviction for corruption.
On Tuesday, with his conviction intact, Bateman had no choice but to surrender to a Miami-Dade court to begin serving a 22-month prison sentence.
The day of reckoning was a long time coming for the 63-year-old Bateman, who was convicted of using his influence while secretly on the payroll of a company needing his help to build a clinic in downtown Homestead.
Along the way, he lost bids in Miami’s appeals court and the Florida Supreme Court.
Last month, Bateman pleaded with a Miami-Dade judge, asking for a reduced sentence because his wife died unexpectedly and his adult son suffers from autism and needs constant care. Circuit Judge Lourdes Simon is still considering the request. A hearing will be held next week on the request
First elected in 2009, Bateman had a stormy and scandal-plagued tenure, often clashing with elected leaders and staff at Homestead’s city hall. He was initially arrested and charged in August 2013 as he was running for reelection, a campaign he eventually lost.
At trial in December 2014 jurors heard that Bateman, who ran a construction company, solicited a job as a $125-an-hour “consultant” for Community Health of South Florida Inc., or CHI.
At the time, CHI was planning to build a new children’s crisis center in Homestead, a project delayed because of a lack of connections to a sewage pump. City authorities agreed to build a bigger pump station, but Miami-Dade County officials halted the project over concerns about the facility’s design.
Prosecutors said Bateman used his position to try and sway county officials to speed up their approval of the pump station.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez testified at trial that he met with Bateman, who tried to push the pump issue but never disclosed he was being paid by CHI. Bateman later billed the company for his meeting at County Hall.
After his conviction, Bateman was allowed to remain free on bond while his he took his case to Miami’s Third District Court of Appeal. In December, judges upheld the conviction, saying there was “sufficient competent evidence” to support his conviction for unlawful compensation and failing to register as a lobbyist.