Twenty-six Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) employees in Palm Beach and Broward counties have been laid off. They are among 500 workers DCF is cutting statewide. So much for Gov. Rick Scott’s job-creation plan.
DEED FRAUD CHARGED
Kesner Joaseus, 41, was arrested on charges of organized fraud. Joaseus, of West Palm Beach, is accused of falsifying quitclaim deeds and illegally transferring ownership of dozens of homes in Palm Beach County to his company, K & R Investment Capital.
FAKE ATTORNEY ARESST
Levy Garcia Crespo has been charged with allegedly posing as an attorney in more than 3,000 immigration cases. He is accused of collecting fees and appearing in court representing clients as Gerald Salerno, a real attorney. Police said he signed and submitted fake documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Numerous Palm Beach County Democrats, including County Commissioner Burt Aaronson and state Rep. Irving Slosberg, have signed a letter asking party leaders to discourage primary challenges to incumbents in 2012. Aaronson and Slosberg were elected to office by defeating incumbents in primaries but now they are claiming primary challenges would be destructive to Democrats.
SACKETT SIGNS OFF
WPTV-TV Channel 5 news anchor Jim Sackett joined the station in 1978 and has consistently reigned atop the ratings. In December, he will hang up his microphone and retire after 34 years. Michael Williams, a reporter who came to WPTV from Miami’s WFOR Channel 4 in March, will succeed him at the anchor desk.
BUMP & ROB ARRESTS
Michael Alan Barnett and Deonte Catavious Peterkins, both 17, were arrested and charged in connection with several violent “bump and rob” incidents. Peterkins and Barnett, both of West Palm Beach, are accused in a string of robberies in which motorists were bumped from behind and robbed when they got out to inspect the damage. Some victims were brutally beaten and some were forced to drive to ATM machines and withdraw cash.
Steven White, the 55-year-old former construction manager for the Town of Palm Beach, will go trial in July for allegedly accepting bribes from contractors. Police said between January 2009 and March 2010, White accepted nearly $250,000 from Dee Griffin Earthworks and Chaz Equipment, two contractors that were awarded more than $4.9 million in town contracts. An informant tipped off authorities to the bribes, police said. White was charged with 72 corruption-related felonies in April 2010 and was fired from his $94,000 a year job the following month. Each of the 72 counts carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Several other people were also charged in the case, including the contractors.
After 15 years, civil-rights advocate and attorney Randy A. Fleischer has resigned from the Broward County Human Rights Board, which he chaired. County officials implemented a new policy prohibiting lobbying by advisory board members, which would have likely prevented Fleischer from representing county employees or taking up their causes. He requested a legal opinion from the county attorney, county administrator and commissioners but no one responded. To avoid any potential conflict, Fleischer resigned.
Democratic Party official and political consultant Ruth Lynch is being accused of improperly handling contributions the Florida Democratic Party made to the Florida Democratic Black Caucus. Lynch isn’t talking but it doesn’t look good. Lynch is a member of the Black Caucus organization but former Broward chapter president Alan Brown alleges she was never authorized to solicit or spend money on the Caucus’ behalf. Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Eric Jotkoff said it was a misunderstanding that has been cleared up.
Businessman and community servant John Hardwick was laid to rest this past week after succumbing to a stroke. He was 41. He was dedicated to his northwest Hallandale Beach community. He owned Fresh Cuts barbershop and worked tirelessly to improve relations between residents and city government. His passion was pursuing economic opportunities for the area.
The Democrats are targeting Broward County for a major voter turnout effort in 2012. Democratic political operative Barbara Miller is hosting a fundraiser and strategy session at her Hallandale Beach home on June 23. The invitation list is impressive but does not include any blacks, which is mindboggling. Mitch Caesar, chairman of the Broward Democratic Party, has not been invited either. Reports say Miller’s group, with the blessings of state party chairman Rod Smith, will proceed without Caesar and his political machine. Smith, who was on the gubernatorial ticket with losing candidate Alex Sink, is said to be frustrated with local in-fighting and the dismal turnout effort in Broward during the last election.
Jenna Maldonado, the daughter of former Homestead mayor and current Miami-Dade County Commissioner Lynda Bell, is now a police officer with the city of Sweetwater. Maldonado was fired from the Homestead police department after being arrested in 2010 for allegedly pulling her service weapon on her boyfriend at a party while off-duty. Prosecutors dropped the charge after the boyfriend did not want to pursue the incident.
CELEBRITY POET KILLED
Celebrity poet Willie Lee Bell Jr., 46, was murdered outside of the Literary Cafe and Poetry Lounge in North Miami on Sunday morning. Bell was the owner of the club. Witnesses said he was shot multiple times as he was closing up for the night. Police are asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 305-371-8477.
Opa-locka City Manager Clarance Patterson has resigned, effective in September. His surprise announcement came just days after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) opened an investigation into the city’s dysfunctional police department. The department is plagued with discrimination complaints, allegations of sex with detainees and worse. Opa-locka city commissioners were not pleased with Patterson after he suspended Police Chief Cheryl Cason for failing to report an accident in March. They were also surprised to learn that Patterson had requested the FDLE investigation of his department.