Theft of anything metal is on the rise in South Florida, including metal chairs, appliances, and even air-conditioning units. Thieves are targeting homes, businesses, and even churches to steal AC units to sell to scrap dealers. The rising cost of copper, which is currently trading at just over $4.09 per pound, and aluminum, at $1.18 per pound, makes the AC units highly desirable to thieves. Companies in emerging countries such as China and Brazil are buying up metal from local scrap yards, which is driving up prices. So watch out.
Even though unemployment is at record highs, many South Florida companies are claiming they cannot find anyone to work, so they are hiring foreign workers, at lower pay, and getting a tax break for doing so. U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’ department signed off on more than 6,500 guest-worker visas for Florida firms during the past year. All a company has to do is complete a form stating it can’t find workers in the U.S. and the visas are granted. This is outrageous and it needs to stop.
Palm Beach County
RADIO HOST ARRESTED
Anthony F. Cutaia, host of Talk About Mortgages and Real Estate, which aired on the WSBR 740 radio station and the PAX television network, was arrested and charged with allegedly defrauding investors and operating a Ponzi scheme. Federal authorities allege Cutatia recruited investors for real estate projects through CMG Property Investment Group, a company he owns. The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges he invested very small amounts of the money he took in from new recruits and used some of it to make payments to older investors. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
GUILTY AS CHARGED
Robert Howard Wight, vice-president of Chaz Equipment, was convicted of paying bribes to employees of municipalities in Palm Beach County that the company had contracts with. Prosecutors said Wight showered town employees with gift cards, tickets to sporting events and cash. Wight was arrested, along with several other business owners and public employees, as part of a sting, “Operation Dirty Water.” The multi-agency task force was organized by Palm Beach County State Attorney Mike McAuliffe to combat public corruption conducted the investigation.
LAUDERDALE LAKES MESS
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating former Lauderdale Lakes Finance Director Larry Tibbs over $25,000 in sick pay he allegedly paid himself without authorization. Tibbs was fired last year and has repaid the money in question. In other news from the city, officials of Lauderdale Lakes, which is broke, appeared before Broward County commissioners to ask for a bailout of at least $9 million. It was embarrassing, to say the least. The officials were unable to answer key questions about what caused the financial collapse and how to address it. They did admit the city’s books were cooked and one commissioner even called it a “government Ponzi scheme.” Broward State Attorney Michael Satz may be knocking on the doors of City Hall some time this week.
Robert Jancosko, 58, of Fort Lauderdale has been charged with allegedly stealing from his 91-year-old neighbor. Fort Lauderdale police allege he stole at least $34,000 from the woman by accessing her bank account and making out checks payable to himself. The alleged thefts first began in April 2010.
Janard Orange, 18, has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for shooting and killing 16-year-old Gregory Smith during an April 2009 robbery. Smith was leaving a school dance at Boyd Anderson High in Lauderdale Lakes when Orange accosted him at gunpoint. Orange demanded his cell phone and, even though Smith handed the phone over and begged for his life, Orange killed him anyway.
Henry and Andrea Bonner won a key ruling in their lawsuit against Fort Lauderdale. The Bonners are suing the city, claiming officials reneged on an agreement to rebuild their home through its housing rehabilitation program. The Bonners applied for and were approved for a city program that demolished their home under an agreement to build them a new one. The city was paying to put them up in a temporary residence until their new home was ready. The city reneged on building the new home. The city also stopped paying the rent for their temporary housing and they were put out on the street. The Bonners are currently living in a warehouse. A judge in the case has ruled they are entitled to pain and suffering damages, as well as the cost of a new home if they prevail. Ouch!
Darrian Williams, 18, was chased and then killed in an unincorporated Miami-Dade neighborhood this past weekend. Miami-Dade Police said the teen argued with several people and then ran for his life in the 1900 block of Northwest 53rd Street. He was shot and found dead in the backyard of a home in the area. Several persons believed to have been involved in the chase are being sought. Police are asking anyone with information to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305- 471-8477.
During a trade mission to Canada last week, Gov. Rick Scott struck gold. He announced Toronto Sky Aviation is buying Aircraft Armature, an aviation repair located near Opa-locka Executive Airport. The company will expand the Opa-locka operations and is expected to create at least 100 new jobs. Scott has pledged support for the company and its expansion.
Raymond Herisse, 22, a Boynton Beach man who was shot and killed by Miami Beach police officers on Memorial Day, has been laid to rest. Herisse was killed after, police said, he refused to stop when officers tried to pull him over and that he hit four officers with his car. Narces Benoit of Riviera Beach was recording the shooting on his cell phone when police held him at gunpoint and seized his phone. Officers smashed the phone but Benoit was able to recovery the footage anyway.