How the FBI got Rooster the flashy lobbyist to bring down a mayor

Two FBI agents walk into a coffee shop.

They meet with a woman they think can give them the inside scoop on whether a high-ranking Hollywood official might be engaged in corruption.

The woman, then a confidential informant, tells them they’re looking at the wrong guy.

“The one you really need to look at is Alan Koslow,” she says.

But there came a day when Koslow got the gut-churning news that the guys he knew as Jack and Joey weren’t really who they said they were.

He met them in a Fort Lauderdale hotel room on Aug. 22, 2013, this time to pick up $50,000 in cash to launder.

It would be the first time he would come face to face with the agents running the operation: Jerry Hester and Marco Rodriguez.

When Hester and Rodriguez walked in, the undercover agents left the room, leaving Koslow alone with two strangers in suits brandishing FBI badges.

“He was not happy,” Hester testified in his deposition.

“I remember telling him that Jack and Joey, the guys you’ve been dealing with, are undercover FBI agents and you have been involved in money-laundering transactions with them, and we have lots of evidence to prove it and it’s in your best interests to cooperate,” Hester said.

And cooperate he did.

Using his clout

For more than two decades Koslow served as a go-to guy for developers, building a reputation as an expert who gets things done in government dealings. Over the years, big-time developers and gaming interests hired Koslow to represent them. People knew him as brilliant and charming, but also cocksure and arrogant.

Once Koslow became an informant, the FBI gave him a code name: Rooster.

Agents came up with that name because it best reflected Koslow’s “cocky and arrogant” qualities, agent Rodriguez said in his deposition.

Agent E. Heath Graves, who joined the case after the hotel room takedown, had another word to describe Koslow: Flashy.

For nearly three years, Koslow wore a wire to record conversations with public officials in an attempt to obtain evidence of corruption, according to depositions.

Agents sent Koslow to meet with Cooper two more times after he was flipped into an informant. Both times he wore a wire.

With the case not going as planned, the FBI ultimately pulled the plug on Koslow’s role as an informant.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office went on to charge him in a federal money-laundering conspiracy case in May 2016. His sentencing came six months later.

Koslow could have been hit with a five-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine. He got a much better deal courtesy of his cooperation as an informant: One year and a day in prison followed by three years of probation. He also was ordered to pay a $7,500 fine and $8,500 in restitution.

On Dec. 13, 2016, one month after Koslow’s sentencing, Rodriguez and Graves knocked on Mayor Cooper’s door.

Her husband answered.

The mayor was home. Rodriguez and Graves played her a recording of one of her meetings in 2012 with Koslow and the two undercover agents posing as developers.

“We basically came in and said, ‘Look, we need to talk to you about some corruption in Hallandale,’” Graves recalled in his deposition. “We were soliciting her cooperation against corruption in Hallandale and other places.”

Cooper declined to talk.

“I told her at the time, ‘We can argue about what this is, but to me this appears to be illegal conduct, but that’s for another day,’” Graves said. “What we’re here to do is see if you’re willing to cooperate in corruption investigations.”

On Jan. 25, 2018, Cooper turned herself in to face criminal charges.

In addition to recording his conversations with Cooper, Koslow wore a wire with a “handful” of other public officials, Graves said, declining to specify how many.

After Koslow was flipped into an informant, he dropped the names of other elected officials he claimed might be open to taking a bribe.

The FBI chose which public officials they wanted Koslow to meet while wearing a wire, agents said.

The investigation spanned five years, but Cooper was the only public official charged with a crime.

The feds handed it over to the state because they had no proof of bribery.

“When we obtained the campaign violations, that’s what that was for,” Hester said. “Later down the road if we weren’t successful in our pursuit of federal public corruption charges that we would have that in our back pocket, so to speak.”

Moving forward

Koslow was released from federal prison in 2017 and is still on probation.

He was disbarred after his conviction on federal charges, so can never work again as an attorney. These days, he’s working as a mediator and development consultant.

Koslow, who now lives in Boca Raton, declined to comment for this story.

Cooper’s case is heading to trial this summer.

As the star witness for the prosecution, Koslow is expected to take the stand.

Larry Davis, Cooper’s attorney, asked Rodriguez during his deposition whether Koslow ever bribed a public official.

“We could never prove it and he denied it, even after we flipped him,” Rodriguez said.

Susannah Bryan can be reached at or 954-356-4554. Find her on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan.

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