Around South Florida with Elgin Jones 05-05-11
Amy Stephenson, 30, of Key Largo, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for starving her 13-month-old daughter to death in 2006. She had already served more than two years in prison after being convicted in 2008 when she was released on appeal in 2010 after her conviction was overturned. Prosecutors asked her if she had ever considered aborting the child, which a court ruled tainted the jury. Her child was born prematurely and suffered numerous medical problems requiring multiple surgeries and hospital stays.
Earl Douglas McGee, 34 and Arthur Ayvaz, 60, both of Port St. Lucie, are charged with multiple counts of molesting a 6-year-old girl and possession of child pornography. Both men have reportedly confessed to raping the child numerous times at a home they shared in Port St. Lucie.
Citizens Insurance, the state-operated company that provides insurance to homeowners who can’t get coverage elsewhere, has been weakened and is facing other restrictions by state legislators. Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature want to do away with Citizens to stop it from competing with private insurance providers. Such a disastrous move would make no sense. Citizens was created after several private insurance companies stopped writing wind storm, fire and hazard policies in Florida. If homeowners can’t get coverage, the banks and mortgage companies will apply forced coverage at exorbitant prices to mortgages that could result in foreclosures. Citizens is highly profitable, with $744 million in surplus last year alone and $5.1 billion in reserves. With such a performance, the state-run insurer can easily offer affordable coverage but legislators have restricted it from offering lower premiums than private companies do. This is yet another scheme to squeeze consumers and to steer profits to private companies.
Palm Beach County
MAYOR DIESDeborah "Desca" DuBois, the 55-year-old mayor of Lake Park since 2008, has died in a South Carolina hospital. The cause of death has not been disclosed. She had been visiting family members in her hometown of Barnwell, S.C., when she died.
Jeff Kennedy, 53, of Boynton Beach was facing five years in prison for growing marijuana for a medical condition, but prosecutors dropped the charges last week. Kennedy suffers from chronic pain due to unsuccessful back surgery and grew marijuana in his backyard for medicinal use. Kennedy said smoking the plant was more effective than the highly addictive drugs he has been prescribed. Marijuana for medicinal use is legal in 15 states and the District of Columbia, but not in Florida.
WATER FIGHTDeerfield Beach City Manager Burgess Hanson is not responding to questions about a resident who was sent a $900 water bill two years after closing the account and moving to another home. Hezekiah Jones, 48, relocated to another home in the city in 2009. The landlord rented his former residence to another family shortly thereafter. Jones has now been warned that his service at the home he has lived in since 2009 will be cut off if he doesn’t pay a water bill at his former residence. Jones said he does not know the other family and that city officials want him to pay for their mistake. Stay tuned.
Corey Simpson, 21, became the sixth person killed by police in Broward County when he was shot during a bus stop scuffle last Friday. Police said after they responded to a bus stop about a man behaving erratically, they encountered Simpson, who was tasered after acting aggressively. Police bullets took him down after, police said, he pulled a knife. The shooting is under review.
DILLARD IN FINALSFormer state Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell lost his bid to become president of the Florida Bar. Campbell, 62, was in a runoff election against Tampa lawyer Gwynne Alice Young, who won with 10,985 votes to Campbell's 10,234. Campbell, a former Democratic Party leader in the senate, is currently representing victims of mold contamination in the Broward County Main Courthouse.
Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale and New World School of the Arts in Miami will compete in the coveted national jazz contest in New York. The 16th annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival will take place May 12-14. It will be held at the Frederick Rose Theater at the Lincoln Center. The schools are trying to raise the $30,000 each to make the trip to New York. Dillard placed second in last year’s competition.
LAKES’ FINANCESThe city of Lauderdale Lakes is broke and commissioners are seeking a bailout from Gov. Rick Scott, which is almost laughable. The city is behind on numerous bills, including $5.8 million for four months of law enforcement and fire services owed to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. BSO General Counsel Judith Levine has sent a letter to the governor about the delinquent payments. City Manager Anita Taylor said the city does not have the money. No help is coming and its time for state legislators from this area to begin the process of having Lauderdale Lakes merge with another municipality.
Homestead VFW Post 4127 was formed way back in 1946 but is now on the brink of closing, even though it is located in a military town and has nearly 400 members. That’s because the Post is in debt, with only about nine members active, which has hurt fundraising. The VFW has traditionally donated money to charities but now it is the one needing assistance.
DEMOCRAT CRITICIZEDDemocrats are upset – and that is putting it mildly – with Miami state Rep. Daphne Campbell, also a Democrat. The rift came while Campbell was speaking on the House floor in support of a Republican-sponsored abortion bill. During her speech, she quoted bible verses and that elicited hisses and verbal attacks from fellow Democrats.
CLINIC OPERATOR CONVICTED
Sergio Montoya, 56, has been convicted of filing false insurance claims related to fake injuries his clients supposedly suffered in allegedly staged car accidents. Montoya is a massage therapist and owner of the S & B Medical Center in Miami. A jury convicted him on two of counts fraud and two counts of filing false claims. He will be sentenced June 30 and faces up to 20 years in prison.