California was first. Florida followed, with the second-highest number of foreclosures in the nation during the first six months of 2010. Attorney Kenneth Eric Trent of Oakland Park won a foreclosure case by challenging the mortgage industry as a fraud. He is now preparing a class-action lawsuit against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., or “MERS,” which is the clearing house of sorts for the mortgage industry. According to Trent, MERS allows banks to claim they are the owners of the note, when they are not. Trent successfully challenged MERS authority and validity in a recent case. He is now preparing a class-action lawsuit over the issue, which he expects to be duplicated around the country. He has set up ForeclosureDestoyer.com, where consumers can join the lawsuit.
BROWARD WOMEN CHARGED
Lakeisha Renee Gordon, 25, of Fort Lauderdale, and Toccara McClover, 27, of North Lauderdale, were arrested July 16 and charged with grand theft in St. Lucie County. The two are accused of fleeing a Wal-Mart store through a fire exit with a shopping cart full of electronics and other merchandise. Police say the duo may have hit other stores in St Lucie and Palm Beach counties in recent weeks. Gordon posted bail and was released. McClover remained in the St. Lucie County Jail due to an outstanding grand theft warrant in Broward County.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has reached a settlement with T-Mobile USA, the nation’s fourth-largest cellular company. T-Mobile, whose parent company is German-based Deutsche Telekom, agreed to pay $600,000 to the state over its “cramming” practices. This is the practice of adding services like ringtones and horoscopes to cell phone bills without customer authorization. The individual cell phone customers will not get reimbursed as part of the settlement, which is ridiculous.
RED LIGHT CAMERAS
In Homestead, Councilman Jimmie L. Williams, III says red light cameras brought in nearly $500,000 in the first few months of operation. In Fort Lauderdale, outgoing City Manager George Gretsas pushed hard for the devices, and expects them to generate a substantial amount of revenue. Municipalities all over South Florida are in a rush to install them, salivating at this newfound revenue source. But the devices could be problematic as well. In Fort Lauderdale, managers are grappling with how to deal with tickets issued to off-duty police officers who run red lights while driving squad cars. Then, there is the question of keeping and maintaining the videos for evidence when tickets are challenged.
Palm Beach County
Saintamene Brifin, 30, of Boynton Beach was released from jail on $6,000 bond after she was arrested July 15 for disciplining her children. Brifin was shopping with her two children when they opened a package of candy in the store and ate it. She is accused of hitting the children with her fist. The children were not injured or bruised, but Brifin was charged with two counts of cruelty toward a child. The state Department of Children and Families took custody of the children.
Three people have been charged in the cold-case murder of Gregory Beasley on June 10, 2006. Beasley’s charred body was found in an alley in West Palm Beach. Radel Prudent, 29, of Miami was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on Sunday, July 18. He had been serving time for armed robbery in a federal prison in South Carolina and was returned to West Palm Beach to face the charges. Jean-Charles Wood, 33, also of Miami, was taken into custody on May 19, and a third, unnamed suspect remains on the loose. Police say Wood confessed that the suspects grabbed Beasley, 26, of Lauderhill, outside a North Miami Beach strip club, and placed him in Wood's truck before shooting him in the back of the head. Then, they allegedly drove his body to an alley near Interstate 95 and Forest Hill Boulevard, and set it on fire.
Broward Democratic Party Executive Committee (DEC) Member Randy A. Fleischer has filed a grievance against local party chairman Mitch Ceasar. In a July 20 complaint, Fleischer alleges that Ceasar has neglected his duties by refusing to appoint grievance committee members. The local party’s management committee will take up the grievance at a later date, and Ceasar could face sanctions.
A multi-agency task force that consisted of the FBI, Fort Lauderdale police, Broward Sheriff's Office and Hollywood police has conducted an investigation that led to the indictments of eight people on drug charges. Kevin Johnson of Miramar; Desmond Bullock of West Park; Odis Lumpkin of Miami and Travis Baker of Miami Gardens have been arrested, along with Christopher Grayson, Jonathan Witherspoon, Jasmine Simmons and Charles Bernard Walker, all of Hollywood, according to investigators. The group allegedly sold cocaine in the Carver Ranches neighborhood of West Park. If convicted, they face mandatory life sentences on federal drug charges.
Michael Kessler, president of the Kessler International forensic auditing firm, is wading through the city of Pompano Beach’s Office of Housing and Urban Improvement records. His firm was hired to conduct an audit of the department’s operations. But he may have to turn his attention to the Community Redevelopment Agency’s $12 million Ortanique Estates development. It is just one of the projects that former CRA board member Vicente Thrower, who was charged with corruption earlier this year, is citing as an example of widespread corruption in the city.
What a 29-year-old man was doing with a 16-year-old ex-girlfriend is anybody’s guess, but that’s the situation of Jolexis Rodriguez. He visited the home of his old flame on Saturday, July 16, in the 1500 block of Northwest 26th Avenue, in unincorporated Miami-Dade County. He demanded to see her, but her father asked him to leave. Rodriguez reacted by allegedly stabbing the father in the stomach. He then turned his attention to his ex-girlfriend and allegedly stabbed her in the arm before fleeing. The father and daughter were treated and released from the hospital. Rodriguez was apprehended a short distance away, investigators said. Charges are pending.