|Former port Chairman Tony Nelson leaves the federal courthouse in Jacksonville in January. [Photo: Florida Times-Union/Rick Wilson]|
Federal officials charged Tony Nelson, former chairman of the Jacksonville Port Authority, in a 44-count indictment that claims he demanded more than $100,000 in bribery payments from a contractor.
Frank Bernardino, a former South Florida Water Management District official who was founder of the Tallahassee lobbying firm Wren Group, was also charged. The indictment charges that Bernardino and Nelson created a sham contract showing Nelson was consulting for Wren but that monthly payments of $8,500 were instead being funneled through Bernardino on behalf of the dredging contractor, Lance Young of Orlando-based Subaqueous Services, who is cooperating with the feds.
The charges include conspiracy, money laundering, mail fraud, bribery and making a false statement to the FBI. The government is seeking forfeiture of $935,000 from Nelson and Bernardino and an additional $50,000 from Nelson.