Fla. Port Authority Exec Guilty of Taking Bribes

     (CN) - A federal jury convicted Jacksonville Port Authority Chairman Tony Nelson for demanding and accepting $143,500 in bribes.
     Nelson, 51, solicited the bribes from Subaqueous Services owner Lance W. Young, in exchange for dredging contracts between 2006 and 2008, the jury found Friday.
     Nelson denied any illegal relationship in official investigations. He was convicted of 36 corruption-related charges, including conspiracy, bribery, mail fraud and false statements. 
     Indicted on Jan. 1, 2010, Nelson faces 20 years and a $250,000 fine for a conspiracy count; 20 years and $250,000 for each of 11 honest service mail fraud counts; 20 years and $500,000 for each of 11 money laundering counts; 12 years and $250,000 for each of 12 bribery charges; and five years and $250,000 for a solitary false-statement charge.
     Days earlier, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan booted the charges against Nelson's co-defendant Frank Bernardino, a lobbyist who funneled the money from Young, the contractor, to Nelson.
     In a motion for acquittal, Bernadino's attorney Nathan Diamond wrote that the government did not prove that there client knew the transaction was illegal.
     "In the present case, the defendant submits that there is no evidence that he knew of any illegal agreement between Young and Nelson," Diamond wrote. "[Bernadino] was not a party to any of the conversations between and Young and Nelson. Young never related the conversations to the defendant. On the contrary Young's testimony was simply that he told the defendant that Nelson wanted to be on the payroll without stating any illegal reason whatsoever."
     Judge Corrigan reportedly dropped the charges against him on May 17.
     Nelson's sentencing date has not been set.