elgin_jones_web_13.jpgDESTRUCTIVE REPUBLICANS
Chief Justice John Roberts was once the darling of conservatives but after he joined the four-member liberal wing of the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,

he is now being villified by them. This current crop of Republicans in no way resembles those who elected former presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. In reaction to the election of Barack Obama, this current group, with its racist code-speak and hateful rhetoric, has been appealing to the less informed, ignorant and the paranoid to gin up hatred toward the nation’s first black president. They will attack anyone who doesn’t join them in this despicable exercise with few meaningful ideas. Former Gov. Charlie Crist was run out of the party for embracing the president at an event, and now Roberts is being maligned for having his own mind. Such factions are destroying the party which was founded as an anti-slavery institution. Today, it has embraced Mitt Romney, a moderate who is now faking being a conservative, while the party holds its nose and hopes he can somehow pull off a win for them. This is destructive politics at its worst.

The Florida Bar has recommended disbarment or suspensions for six South Florida attorneys. Robert J. Freidman of Hallandale Beach was recommended for disbarment over his admitted misappropriation of clients’ funds. Fernando Hernandez of Miami is also recommended for disbarment for commingling personal and trust account funds.  So too are Francis X. Santana of Hialeah and Scott Sanok of Delray Beach for failing to comply with previous orders from the Florida Bar. Nicolas Jesus Gutierrez Jr. of Coral Gables has been recommended for suspension for one year for mishandling the sale of a boat manufacturing company and fabricating documents related to those transactions. Lawton Reid Jackson of Palm Beach faces suspension for spending $30,000 from a trust, money which he claimed as legal fees. Mikel David Jones of Boynton Beach faces suspension after he was convicted on federal mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering charges.  So too are Deryl G. Hunt Jr. and Bruce Edgar Wagner of the Wagner & Hunt debt collection firm in Margate for purchasing money orders and applying them to debtors’ accounts without their knowledge or consent.  Anthony Joseph Alfero of Fort Lauderdale faces a reprimand for using threatening remarks in a letter to another lawyer in a divorce case.

The Florida Commission on Ethics intends to ask state legislators to increase the amount of fines it can impose on public officials who have been found to have violated state ethics rules. The commission is also seeking authority to enforce and collect those fines. Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has expressed support for reform of the near powerless agency which cannot initiate investigations or act on anonymous tips.

Palm Beach County

Christopher Martell Pipkin
, 26, has been arrested. Authorities say he raped a woman he had been dating for about a month. The woman told police she visited Pipkin at his Boca Raton home just to talk. An argument ensured and he allegedly choked her and prevented her from leaving. She tried to use her car keys to fend him off but, according to the police report, he put a pillow over her head and beat and raped her. Pipkin is facing charges of sexual battery, domestic battery by strangulation and false imprisonment.

Delson St. Pierre, 20, of Boynton Beach was employed at a local McDonald’s restaurant. He has admitted to swiping customers’ credit and debit cards through a scanning device for a man known as “Card Man.” St. Pierre told police he was paid $500 for every 30 credit cards he swiped through the machine. The scam was uncovered after a customer complained to the manager that she believed her card was skimmed at the store. Surveillance video showed St. Pierre swiping dozens of customers’ cards through the device after they had paid for their meals. Book ’em, Danno!

Broward County

Pompano Beach firefighters Lewis Stouffer and Craig Turturo have been arrested and charged with allegedly operating illegal pain clinics throughout South Florida. They are charged with drug trafficking and racketeering. The two-year investigation nabbed 14 other suspects and bail was set at $1 million each.

Karen Bates McCord
was a juror in the trial of Matthew Bent, a 17-year-old recently convicted in the 2009 burning attack on Deerfield Beach Middle School student Michael Brewer. McCord has sent a letter to Broward Circuit Judge Michael Robinson saying she was confused and pressured to change her vote. McCord, who is black, said the deliberations were racially charged. Bent’s attorney, Johnny McCray Jr., has filed a motion seeking to have the verdict thrown out and asking for a new trial. Bent faces a maximum prison term of 15 years at his July 23 sentencing.

Miami-Dade County

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation have issued a consent order against First Bank of Miami. The order accuses the bank of numerous regulatory violations, as well as poor asset quality and mismanagement. Board members have been ordered to begin holding documented meetings and to get more involved in the bank’s affairs.

Jean LaCroix, a child-protective services investigator with the Department of Children & Families, was arrested while attempting to flee to his native Haiti. LaCroix is being accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old child abuse victim whose case he was assigned to handle.

James Kauff, 60, and his wife Ruth Kauff, 52, have been charged after allegedly using fake media passes to gain entry into game four of the NBA championship between the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma Thunder. The Kauffs said through their attorney that it was all a mix-up and that they purchased their tickets. The couple spent the night in jail and is charged with fraudulent possession of admission tickets and trespassing, both misdemeanors.