elgin_jones_web_13.jpgBANK SETTLEMENT
The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank) has reached a $62 million settlement of a federal lawsuit filed over its checking and debit card overdraft fees. According to the lawsuit, instead of processing transactions chronologically, the bank processed larger transactions first, which sent accounts in the negative, and then smaller transactions, which resulted in more overdraft fees. TD Bank and CEO Ed Clark had been the target of protests over the practice.


Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old Jacksonville mother of two, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into a wall during an altercation with her estranged husband in 2010. Alexander had never been in trouble before. She had a restraining order against her husband but, thinking he was away, went to their former home to retrieve her belongings, only to find him there. An argument ensued and she got a handgun from her car and fired a shot into a wall. No one was injured or hurt and she claimed self-defense invoking the state’s “stand your ground” law.  She was arrested and, at her trial, a judge rejected her defense. She was convicted by a jury after 12 minutes of deliberations. Under Florida’s “10-20-Life” statute, Alexander was given the mandatory minimum of 20 years for discharging a firearm during the commission of a felony. Like “stand your ground,” the minimum mandatory sentence should be repealed to avoid such ridiculous and unfair sentences. Discretion should be returned to and left in the hands of judges.


Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has announced that budget cuts and fewer people using the mail to communicate has led to a decision to close a number of mail processing facilities around the country, including both such facilities in Broward County. The Main Post Office in Fort Lauderdale and the South Florida Processing Center in Pembroke Pines will be closed by Sept. 1. Customers will still be able to use the post offices but companies that mail in bulk will now have to travel to facilities in Miami-Dade or Palm Beach counties to process their shipments, which will be a burden.

Steve MacNamara, the lobbyist who was hired as Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff, has resigned. MacNamara was paid $189,000 a year and was blamed for a number of missteps by the Scott administration. His last day is scheduled for July 1 but expect Scott to cut him loose immediately. Scott has already hired Adam Hollingsworth, a development company executive, to replace MacNamara. Scott’s poll numbers are abysmal and he will have to try other things, such as listening to the average person, and stop his dictatorial method of governing, if he wants to gain favor with Floridians.

Palm Beach County

In a 27-page opinion, federal magistrate James Hopkins has ruled that Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and his  department were wrong for threatening medical staff at hospitals with arrest if they refused to draw blood from DIU suspects without a doctor’s order. The ruling came in a case involving Marjorie DePalis­-Lachaud, a nurse at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Riviera Beach. She was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car after she refused to draw a DUI suspect’s blood without a doctor’s order. DePalis­-Lachaud is suing and I hope she wins big time.


The federal Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has issued an order for Palm Beach Gardens-based South Bank to raise capital. South Bank is the smallest South Florida bank, with only $22.8 million in assets. OCC criticized what it calls South Bank’s “unsafe and unsound” banking practices in the areas of asset quality, credit risk management and lending administration. CEO Danny Wiginton and the bank have been given 60 days to rais­­e capital and present a plan on how it will address these concerns and how it will dispose of problem assets over the next three years.

Broward County

Van Lawson Williams
, 49, of Fort Lauderdale, was arrested on federal sex trafficking of minors charges. Authorities allege Williams would meet underage runaway girls in his northwest Fort Lauderdale neighborhood and give them food and a place to stay. He would then convince them to work as prostitutes from his home, police said. He is also accused to providing the girls with drugs.

Sharon Bourassa, attorney with Legal Aid of Broward County, is charging ahead with a lawsuit against the City of Fort Lauderdale and its Community Redevelopment Agency. Legal Aid’s lawsuit on behalf of current and former property owners alleges the city engaged in an orchestrated scheme to seize properties in the predominantly black and lower-income northwest section of the city to hand over to developers. Bourassa is fighting the city and its army of private law firms who have successfully gotten protective orders to shield former City Manager George Gretsas and CRA director Al Battle from testifying.

Federal agents with the Department of Education and the FBI raided Fast Train College locations in Pembroke Pines and Jacksonville and seized computers and file cabinets and other records. School officials did not respond to questions but, according to sources, the search warrants were issued in connection with an ongoing investigation into federal Pell Grants. Fast Train offers degrees in medical-related and computer technology fields. Its corporate offices are located in Kendall, with seven campuses around the state.

Miami-Dade County


Jean Rene Duperval, a former executive at Haiti's telecommunications company Haiti Teleco, has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted in a widespread bribery case in March. Duperval was accused of accepting more than $500,000 in bribes from two Miami companies in exchange for long-distance phone contracts with Haiti Teleco from 2003 to 2004. Eight other Haitian officials and Miami telecommunications executives also were convicted in the scheme.


Even though the University of Miami recently announced layoffs at its Miller School of Medicine, not all is bad. University President Donna Shalala announced the school is the recipient of a $7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct AIDS research. UM also received a $350,000 grant from the NIH to study treatments for cocaine addiction.


Orchard Villa Elementary School student Keyona Jackson was honored as the winner of Winn-Dixie Supermarkets’ Legacy of Good Eating Contest. The contest was open to fifth graders at the school, encouraging students to share their family’s healthy recipes. Keyona’s sweet potato pie was selected tops among the 33 contestants. She won a $100 gift card and a party thrown for her classmates. Congratulations.

Photo: Elgin Jones