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Florida Developer Michael Masanoff Disbarred for Kickbacks

Michael Masanoff + Palm Beach Transit Village

Michael Masanoff, a Florida lawyer and real estate developer who is currently working on the $300 million Palm Beach Transit Village, has agreed to voluntarily give up his license to practice law. He did so after admitting to taking kickbacks and working both sides of a real estate deal back in May.

Masanoff took a $100, 000 bribe from one of the parties involved in a deal to sell a Florida cemetery in 2003. The cemetery was used as the location for a new residential project.

Masanoff asked for “disciplinary revocation” from the Florida State Bar, rather than to continue to fight against disbarment. While he can reapply for a license to practice law again in five years, the Florida Supreme Court said that this, “is tantamount to disbarment.”

“I haven’t practiced law for quite some time, ” Masanoff said. “I just didn’t feel like I wanted to be a lawyer anymore. I should have retired from the practice of law a long time ago.”

Two years ago, after six years of fighting, the Palm Beach County Commission approved the $300 million mixed-use transit village project in West Palm Beach. The development will include 400, 000 square feet of office space, a 375 room hotel, 87, 500 square feet of retail and community space and 300 residential units all centered around a commuter rail station.

There will also be a 290 space parking garage.

In a 5-2 vote, the Commission agreed to sell Masanoff’s group a 6 acre parcel of land known as “the wedge” for $3.6 million. The sum was a lot more than the $100, 000 that the developers had offered, but delays in approval caused by opposition to the project drove the price up.

Public concerns included worries over increased traffic congestion in the area. Some also felt that new hotel space there is unnecessary as existing area hotels never fill up.

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