Palm Beach County
Scott Jason Silvestri, 36, of Palm Beach Gardens, was charged with grand theft on Monday, June 27 for stealing $82,000 worth of carbide from his job at BA Manufacturing in Riviera Beach. The expensive metal was sold to a local scrap yard for just a small percentage of its value. Carbide is used to coat drill bits, saw blades and other machine tools to make them harder. Silvestri admitted stealing the metal, and was caught after catching a ride home with a co-worker. Investigators say he accidentally left some of the metal behind in the car.
In 2009, the Broward County Human Rights Division found that former police officer Theresa Williams, 34, suffered retaliation at the hands of Lauderhill Police Chief Ken Pachnek. Now, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued similar findings. The U.S. Depart-ment of Justice is monitoring the case, which means it could file a lawsuit on Williams’ behalf. Williams filed a complaint alleging gender discrimination after she was passed over for promotion in 2008. The gender discrimination charge was not substantiated, but the allegations of retaliation for filing the complaint were. Williams, 34, said that after filing the complaint, she was stripped of her normal duties, and started getting reprimands along with charges of workplace violations. Now, she has filed a new charge of retaliation against the department after she was fired in March from her $65,000-a-year job.
SHAKE UP CONTINUING
Jim Acton asked to be relieved from his duties as director of the Broward County Human Resources Division. He is now working in the county’s library system. County Administrator Bertha Henry says Acton took a voluntary demotion, which is odd under any circumstances, and even more curious in today’s economy. Sources say Acton is the subject of an ongoing Office of Professional Standard investigation, and that may have hastened the move.
SHOW ME MONEY
In 2008, then-Deerfield Beach City Manager Mike Mahaney determined that 44 managers were receiving pay above their salary ranges, without authorization. For example, then-Director of Finance Sally Siegel was being paid $138,612.45, even though her pay range is supposed to be capped at $115,741. Siegal announced her retirement earlier this year. Human Resources Director Marva Gordon was earning $128,748.46, which is more than $20,000 above her position’s maximum of $107,168. Gordon retired in 2009. In all, Mahaney found overpayments of $170,000 annually, but recommended that the city not seek a return of those funds. Even more amazing, no one seems to know how this happened. During a city commission meeting, City Attorney Andy Maurodis said the extra payments were made with
“no authority.” Today, those overpayments are continuing. While some workers are being laid off, a select few are being paid extra, with “no authority.” This would be a good issue for Michael Kessler, of the auditing firm Kessler International, to investigate.
As the city of Sunrise’s population continues to grow, including an increasing number of black people, so do political opportunities. Imogene Ferguson, 66, became the first black person and first woman to ever qualify to run for mayor in Sunrise. The city had a 70-percent white population and just 20-percent black in 2000, according to the U.S. Census. Ferguson is active in the sprawling Sunrise Lakes condominium association, and hopes to benefit from this if several white candidates enter the race.
COP ALLEGES THREAT
Terrance Donovan, 22, was arrested Sunday, June 26 after allegedly threatening a deputy and pointing a rifle at him. Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a domestic violence disturbance at his Dania Beach home in the 4600 block of Southwest 33rd Avenue around 9 a.m. That’s when Donovan allegedly threatened to kill the deputy several times, while pointing a rifle at him. The deputy fired one shot, which missed, and Donovan was taken into custody.
Beverly Stracher is a former Sun-Sentinel reporter and aide to Broward County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman. Her husband is Leslie Stracher, formerly an attorney with Scott Rothstein’s dissolved Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler firm. Stracher is cooperating with prosecutors in several public corruption cases, and Lieberman must be uncomfortable. Vicente Thrower, the former Pompano Beach advisory board member who was charged with taking kickbacks in April, says it was Stracher who asked him to introduce Shawn and Bruce Chait to now-jailed former Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion. Thrower is seeking a deal, but several people have beaten him to it. Now, he is reportedly shopping information he claims to have on the politicians whose campaigns he worked on. Should be interesting.
LOWEST OF THE LOW
Michael A. Vargas, the 36-year-old owner of Security Professional Group, was arrested for allegedly running a lowly scam that led people to believe they had been hired. The victims paid Vargas $250 for security guard training, with guarantees they would receive good-paying jobs. Some even quit the jobs they had, thinking they were ready to report to their new employers. But when they showed up for work at shopping malls and car dealerships, the businesses informed them they had no work, and had no idea who Vargas was.
Miami-Dade police arrested Benjamin Marcus Raucher, 22, after he attempted to rob a woman and allegedly grabbed her buttocks. Raucher is believed to be the suspect caught in several surveillance videos robbing women and then fondling them. He was caught after allegedly trying to rob a woman on June 26, but that woman fought back. A passerby saw the commotion and pulled over to help. Raucher fled, but was caught a short distance away. He is charged with armed robbery, strong armed robbery and five counts of simple battery.
JULY FOURTH DANGERS
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, Miami City Commissioner Richard Dunn and rapper Pit Bull are teaming up for the “One Bullet Kills The Party” campaign. The effort seeks to educate people about the dangers of gunfire during celebrations. Miami has seen an increase in shooting from stray bullets in recent years. Coupled with public service announcements, the campaign will include increased police presence.