elgin_jones_web_13.jpgPalm Beach County

U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp sentenced Joshua Barrett Hoskins, 32, to five years in prison for his role in a timeshare scam. He must also repay the $326,054 he made from the Boca Raton-based scheme which operated from 2009 to 2010, bilking people out of deposits put down on timeshares. It was headed by former New York detective Frank Defilippo, who is serving a 12-year prison sentence.


Bank of America and Miami Lakes-based Bank United will close branches in Palm Beach County in the coming months. Bank United will have only one branch remaining in the county. Bank America is Florida’s second largest bank, with 205 branches and $25 billion in deposits. There is no information on possible job losses.


OpenPeak, a mobile software firm, is seeking taxpayer funds to expand its operations in Boca Raton. The company intends to create more than 100 new jobs at an average salary of $93,000. OpenPeak CEO Dan Gittleman is seeking $700,000 in incentives through the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) program. The company estimates the economic impact of its expansion on the local economy will be $18.5 million. Kelly Smallridge, president/CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County is hopeful the expansion will happen.

 Broward County


Former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman is out of federal prison and enrolled in a program at a halfway house. Salesman, 56, was arrested in 2009 and charged with accepting bribes He was captured on video taking $3,340 in exchange for his support for a construction contract. The supposed owners of the company were actually undercover FBI agents. Salesman was convicted at trial on two counts of bribery and one count of extortion, for which he was sentenced to four years and three months in federal prison.


Longtime Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Harry Stewart has retired. Stewart took on the job when the city was confronted with numerous racial discrimination lawsuits, including some filed by this writer. The city was also facing a financial crisis. Through it all, “Harry” as he is known, was always professional and friendly. He is well respected for his commitment, competence and integrity. Good luck in your retirement, Harry.


There will be some good paying job openings at a local hospital following the conviction of four top executives. Four managers of Hollywood Pavilion, a mental health hospital in Hollywood, have been convicted of defrauding Medicare of $70 million between 2003 and 2012. CEO Karen Kallen-Zury of Lighthouse Point and clinical director Daisy Miller of Hollywood were each convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud and taking bribes. Michele Petrie of Fort Lauderdale, head of intensive outpatient treatment, was found guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud and healthcare fraud. Christian Coloma of Miami Beach, director of physical therapy, was convicted of paying bribes. They were accused of paying bribes to patient recruiters, falsifying documents and more. Book ’em, Danno!


The Tribune Company, owners of the Sun Sentinel, recently emerged from bankruptcy and is seeking to reduce its reliance on newspapers as the main source of revenue. Tribune has struck a $2.73 billion deal to buy 19 television stations around the country from Local TV Holdings LLC. Once the deal is completed, Tribune will own 42 stations in 16 markets, including Miami, Los Angeles and New York. The company already owns WSFL Channel 39 in Miami.

Miami-Dade County


The U.S. Coast Guard seized more than 1,200 pounds of cocaine from a speedboat it intercepted off the coast of Costa Rica. The haul has an estimated street value of more than $19 million. Six persons on board were arrested and are being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The boat was sunk at sea. The cocaine was unloaded in Miami-Beach.


Giancarlo Sopo, an aide to U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Miami, has resigned. Sopo is at the center of a fraudulent absentee ballot scheme investigation. He was Garcia’s director of communications. Garcia’s former chief of staff Jeffrey Garcia, was fired last month over the same issue. The investigation centers on hundreds of fraudulent absentee ballot requests that were allegedly submitted in the 2012 Democratic primary, which Garcia won.


The works of famed sculptor Geidon Nyanhongo and 14 other artists are on display at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. The exhibit,  Chapungu: The Great Stone Sculptors of Africa, will remain through Nov. 16. Miami Beach Botanical Garden is located at 2000 Convention Center Dr. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays. For more information call 305- 673-7256.

Monroe County


Albert Brown, 68, of Miami Gardens lost control of the SUV he was driving and crashed into the Square Grouper restaurant on Cudjoe Key. Dwayne Hamilton, 12, of Randallstown, Md., who was in the front passenger seat, was killed. Another child and two adults who were also in the

vehicle suffered injuries. The highway patrol is investigating this 13th traffic fatality in the Keys so far this year.


A Tavernier family and friends were among those aboard a missing American schooner that was last reported off the coast of New Zealand. The 85-year-old wooden sailboat was making its way from New Zealand to Australia on May 29. It was due to arrive at its destination on June 14 and rescuers fear the vessel may have sunk in rough seas. Among the missing are boat captain David Dyche, 58, his wife Rosemary, 60, and their son David, 17, all of Tavernier. Also aboard were their friend Evi Nemeth, 73, two male passengers aged 28 and 35 and an 18-year-old female.


Yekaterina “Katie” Panskyy, who graduated this year from Island Christian School in Islamorada, is the recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal Award. It is the highest honor that Congress awards to teenagers. Panskyy was recognized for her academic and athletic achievements, as well as community service.