elginjones3web.gifBroward County

Tonuya Rainey, 38, is being held on $185,000 bail after she was charged with the improper disposal of human remains, child abuse, the unlicensed practice of healthcare and illegally terminating a pregnancy. Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein has filed a motion with the Fourth District Court of Appeal to have her bail reduced to the original $14,000. The court has yet to rule on the motion, but – during an arraignment hearing held on Friday, March 20 – Broward County Judge John Hurley increased her bond after expressing his views that the incident was “tantamount to murder.’’  Rainey’s arrest came after she allegedly gave her 16-year-old daughter, who was 6 months pregnant, a pill to end the pregnancy on March 5.  After the premature child was born in the family’s bathroom on March 6, she is accused of taking the baby and throwing it into a trashcan outside the home.  Rainey says the baby was stillborn, but her daughter told police the child was  alive and moving.  In 2008, Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Judge Hurley to the bench. Since that time, he has regularly been seen on TV at arraignment hearings for those accused of committing crimes.  While it is understandable for him to hold personal views on cases before him, it is wrong and unbecoming of a judge to express those views like he did in Rainey’s case.  Citizens are innocent until the judicial process determines some measure of guilt, and to have an arraignment judge opining on cases before any evidence is presented or the accused has been given an opportunity to defend himself or herself is not only reckless, but also an affront to the American judicial process. Judge Hurley’s conduct must be monitored to see if his appointment to the bench was a proper one, or a mistake.

Employees in the Broward County School District’s Safety Division have reportedly been placed under a gag order that prohibits them from discussing workplace hostilities.  And let me tell you, if just some of the allegations prove true, there will be universal outrage.  There are complaints of intimidation and even fistfights between co-workers in this operation. Jerry Graziose, the department director, could not be reached, but one former employee is alleging the workers were fired after filing a police report, following an incident in which they were physically attacked by a co-worker.  This situation is ugly, so stay tuned for the rapidly developing details.  In any event, Schools Superintendent Jim Notter should order a review, before the situation deteriorates any further.

Alberto Carillo, 39, is being held in the Broward County Jail on one count of attempted premeditated murder after he allegedly stabbed his friend, Alberto Aquino, with a knife during a drunken dispute on Sunday, March 22.  The alleged incident took place at Carillo’s home in the 2700 block of Southwest Eighth Street in Fort Lauderdale.  The home is just around the corner from a fire station.  The victim walked to the fire station, where he was treated and then taken to an area hospital.  Doctors removed his spleen and kidney, and he remains hospitalized.  Carillo is also being held on immigration charges, and has an outstanding warrant for resisting arrest.  With friends like this…oh well, never mind.

With former Deerfield Beach Mayor Al Capellini and former Commissioner Steve Gonot awaiting trial on public corruption charges, there is little argument about the ongoing chaos in city hall, and it appears there is no end in sight.  City Manager Mike Mahaney has his hands full with the cache of overpaid, underperforming managers he inherited, but changes are being made. On March 12, Mahaney informed staff that Public Works Director Carl Peter had been demoted to the position of assistant director.  Mahaney cited stress as the reason, but few employees accepted that as the real reason.  Public Works is just one of several city departments that is in constant turmoil and plagued with low morale, so expect other changes.

Abdelaziz Hamze, 25, was found guilty March 23 of second-degree murder in the June 3, 2007, dragging death of Sandra Hall, 44, a Fort Lauderdale mother of two.  After hitting the vehicle in which Hall and her boyfriend were traveling, Hamze attempted to flee the accident scene.  Hall jumped in front of the van that Hamze was driving to prevent him from leaving. Hamze ran into her.  When Hall could no longer hold onto the hood, she fell.  Hamze then ran over her and dragged her for two miles.  Her remains were scattered along State Road 7 from Lauderdale Lakes to North Lauderdale.  Hamze cleaned the blood off the van, switched license plates, and flew to JFK International Airport to catch a flight to Athens, Greece.  He had a one-way ticket, and was apprehended as the plane sat on the runway awaiting takeoff.  After nine hours of deliberations, a jury acquitted him of murder, but did convict him of vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a deadly crash, and leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage. Hamze faces up to 60 years in prison, and hopefully he gets every day of it.

Palm Beach County

Believe it or not, there was a run-off election this week.  It was held on Tuesday, March 23.  Riviera Beach’s incumbent Mayor Thomas Masters took over 42 percent of the vote to beat back challenger Fercella Panier, a high school guidance counselor, to win reelection to a second term.  Bishop Thomas Masters, 56, is also the pastor of New Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Riviera Beach.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has reached a $250,000 settlement with two men who filed a lawsuit alleging they were sexually molested by former Deputy Gervasio Torres while the men were children in the department’s youth Explorer program in the 1990s.  Numerous complaints had been made about Torres, who ran the program, but no action was taken until 2003, when a full investigation was launched.  That probe determined that Torres sexually assaulted at least four boys in the program.  In April 2005, he was convicted of two counts of capital sexual battery and sentenced to two life terms.  He is being held at the Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach.

Willie “Gene” Thomas Jr., 15, became the latest victim in Belle Glade’s violent crime wave this week.  On Monday, March 23, he was gunned down as he was leaving a house with friends on State Road 715, at around 10:15 p.m.  A bullet that entered his body though his torso mortally wounded him.  Police are investigating, and have not said if they have any leads in the case.

Miami-Dade County

Former Sunrise City Manager Pat Salerno, 58, on Tuesday, March 24 accepted the city of Coral Gables’ sweet contract offer of $190,000 a year base salary, plus benefits, to become that city’s new manager.  He will also get $28,500 in pension payments, unlimited and unrestricted use of a
city-provided vehicle, insurance, maintenance and gasoline for the vehicle, a cell phone, three weeks of vacation, health insurance for him and his family, disability coverage, a life insurance policy, and a $500-a-month expense allowance.  Then there is also the $142,500 severance package.

On Monday, March 23 two sickening Miami-Dade doctors, Roberto Rodriguez, 54 and Carlos Garrido, 69, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud Medicare of $10 million by submitting false claims for HIV and AIDS treatments their patients never received.  Their scheme involved manipulating blood samples, and paying kickbacks to AIDS patients who only got a small amount of the actual HIV drugs Medicare was billed for.  It all operated out of their clinic, Midway Medical Center in Miami, from 2002 to 2005.  Gonzalo Nodarse, 38, Alexis Carrazana, 41, Dr. Carmen Lourdes del Cueto, 65, and Alexis Dagnesses, 44 are also charged with participating in the HIV fraud at Midway.