Plea deals- people claim to hate them, yet I have found them very effective as tools of justice allowing for pursuit of more criminals. A big one impacting Brevard has come in the Mitch Needelman-BlueWare corruption case. Kingpin of the deal, lobbyist and Needelman business partner in slime Matt Dupree has entered a guilty plea to bribery in the case that bilked Brevard taxpayers out of millions of dollars and has been dragging on for four long years. While some may worry that Dupree may be skating on earned jail time that is usually not the case. After all, public corruption and those who facilitate it are not looked upon favorably by the courts or the rest of us.
And this case has something special. It has the potential to blow open corruption in Brevard County and maybe elsewhere. If done correctly, Matt Dupree’s guilty plea in the Needelman-BlueWare case could make Phil Archer the corruption prosecutor of the century!
Here is what I mean. In my years investigating major crimes I was privy to many plea negotiations and their aftermath. In every case the defendant was required to outline all past criminal behavior as part of the deal. He would not be charged for those crimes as long as he was complete and honest in his debriefing. He would only stand guilty of the charge that brought the plea to court. He would be sentenced for that crime based upon the level of his cooperation and honesty in telling all he knows about criminal activity to this point. He would then testify as needed in any future proceedings bringing others to justice.
If Dupree’s plea deal is properly structured this could be a goldmine of corruption findings in the region. After all, let’s not pretend that this deal was Dupree’s first wrangling in the rodeo of political influence. How many other officials have participated in bad acts, either facilitated by or with the knowledge of Dupree? I’m hopeful this deal lets us find out!
Dupree’s already scheduled early April sentencing worries me. Has he already fully cooperated? It hardly seems like there has been time for him to have done so between the announcement of the trial date and that of the plea agreement. If he has not, why not hold sentencing until his codefendants Needelman and BlueWare owner Rose Harr have been concluded? Needelman’s conviction is in limbo and could be vacated in favor of another jury and trial. Harr has not been scheduled for trial as of yet. Dupree could be a very necessary witness. Sentencing before that is known and accomplished seems a bit premature.
In any case, State Attorney Phil Archer could become known as the Chief of anti-corruption prosecutors should Dupree provide information and evidence of additional corruption. Phil championed the latest corruption laws adopted by the state legislature. Nailing more corrupt officials would certainly seem within the skill set.
In either case someone is getting a great deal: Archer getting the rat to tell all the secrets of the sinking ship, or Dupree cutting a potential 40 year sentence to no more than 15. Ideally it’s both, but that remains to be seen.