Palm Beach County
A controversy surrounding the city of West Palm Beach’s purchase of a new police radio system is back in the news. Commissioners will have to decide if they want to spend another $16 million on the Open Sky communication system, even though local police and agencies around the country have criticized its operation. Critics contend Open Sky has numerous problems, including dead spots, poor coverage and calls not being transmitted — which can be dangerous in emergencies. Most municipalities in Palm Beach County use Motorola. West Palm Beach Police Chief Delsa Bush advocated for Open Sky and the city has already spent $3.6 million on equipment and $465,000 on maintenance.
Kathryn Hampton, the former bookkeeper for BWF Enterprises, which operates the Labor Finders companies in Palm Beach County, has been sentenced to three years in prison. Hampton was convicted of stealing $118,000 from the business between 2004 and 2005. An internal audit discovered her misdeeds after 15 years on the job. Book’em Danno!
Michael Rigg, a supervisor of the Fort Lauderdale police department’s Evidence Unit, has been reasigned. Rigg is accused of failing to effectively supervise evidence collected by officers. An investigation found the Evidence Unit fraught with problems. Confiscated guns were left lying around and were not tagged or associated with any case or suspects. Drugs and other evidence were equally mishandled and worse, the investigation found. It’s bad, I mean really bad, and could end up affecting any number of criminal cases.
DAWSON ON DECK
Lobbyist and political insider Dr. Alan Mendelssohn has admitted paying bribes to state legislators and using political action committees to promote laws favorable to the medical industry. Mendelsohn has also alleged he funneled $82,000 to then state Sen. Mandy Dawson between 2003 and 2005. Dawson has not been charged in the case but federal authorities are now turning their attention to her and others allegedly involved in the scheme. Mendelsohn is cooperating and some big names are about to get popped.
LAKE OF TROUBLE
When Lauderdale Lakes city officials went before Broward County commissioners seeking help with a $9 million budget deficit, County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs advised them to begin working towards a merger with another city. Jacobs was right. It’s time for Broward County state legislators to begin pushing an effort to have this municipality dissolved. U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings will be holding community meetings with residents but don’t expect any help from the federal government. Lauderdale Lakes is woefully ill prepared to manage itself or address the financial crisis. Funds are unaccounted for and there are mismanagement and waste concerns. It’s time to close up shop.
More issues for Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti’s department. Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies Joseph Diskin and Eric Wright have been relieved of duty. The veteran deputies, who worked in Weston, were under investigation for allegedly working off-duty detail jobs at the same time they were being paid and were supposedly working for the department. Both were escorted out of BSO headquarters on June 8 after the case was presented to the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
The Rev. Dennis Grant, pastor of Restoration Ministries in Margate, has long been involved in youth initiatives. Grant is also an author who has now published his third book but the subject matter is surprising for the good reverend. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex: Getting It Right! is his latest work. Grant is billed as the “Love Doc” and has been making the rounds promoting his 130-page paperback book.
The iconic Omni Center located in downtown Miami near Biscayne Bay is in foreclosure. The mega-mall has 1.5 million square feet of office, retail and hotel space and a 2,700-space parking garage. It sits on 14 acres and has 527 rooms. Lenders have filed a $204 million foreclosure lawsuit which could ultimately lead to a sale, probably to a foreign entity.
Daysi Jaques, 50; Kevin Lopez-Perez, 22; Braghian Navarrette, 28; Luis Paredes-Martinez, 34; Otoniel Zunun-Hernandez, 24; and Fernando Lopez Santiz, 27, were arrested and charged with operating a prostitution ring. A two-year investigation
by Miami-Dade police resulted in the arrests and more could be on the way. They are accused of operating brothels in several locations in Homestead. Authorities suspect many of the women were immigrants who were exploited to work as prostitutes.
You can now add Sonic Drive-Ins to the list of fast food restaurants competing for customers in South Florida. Based in Oklahoma, where it was founded in 1953, the unique eateries were in Homestead and other South Florida locations years ago and are now making a return. Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week. Sonic has a wide variety of menu items, including burgers, barbecue and ice cream. Its carhop service has attendants roller-skating to serve customers in their cars. Most of all, it means much-needed jobs for the local economy.
Parishioners at Holy Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Opa-locka got a bit overheated at this week’s services. They arrived to find the church was the latest victim of air-conditioning theft, likely committed by thieves who sold the aluminum and copper for scrap.
Jophan Porter, 38, a Guyanese flight attendant, is charged with multiple counts of identity theft and forgery. Porter was arrested at Miami International Airport after, the authorities allege, it was discovered that he had assumed the identity of a New York man. He used the information to obtain checks, credit cards and several pieces of identification, including one from the U.S. Department of Transportation in the victim’s name, authorities allege. Porter would use the fake documents during layovers in several countries, it is alleged. Federal authorities are miffed at how he was able to avoid security screenings at airports around the world. The victim discovered the fraud when he tried to apply for food stamps and he reported it to authorities.