ANOTHER KIDDIE PORN ARREST
Jason Aaron Peritz, 22, was arrested on Thursday morning, Aug. 5 and charged with 49 counts of possessing child pornography from the Internet, according to the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office. The arrest came when detectives with the Boca Raton Police Department raided his home, located on Northwest Fifth Terrace in the city. There they retrieved a laptop and an external hard drive, which contained 49 videos of children as young as 5-years-old engaging in sex acts. As of press time, he was being held in the Palm Beach County Jail awaiting a bond hearing.
JOBLESS RATE RISES
According to the most recent statistics released by U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Florida was among the states that had the nation’s highest number of initial unemployment claims in June, with 15,785. Only California, with 56,138, Illinois with 20,576, and Pennsylvania with 18,363 reported higher numbers. The numbers for July have yet to be released, but it doesn’t look good.
MORE BANK FAILURES
Regulators with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on Friday, July 31 shut down five bank chains that were based in Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma and Illinois. This brings the number of failed bank and credit union chains to 69 so far, and the year is still young. These include Jupiter-based Integrity Bank, with $52 million in assets. The FDIC handed over Integrity Bank to Stonegate Bank of Fort Lauderdale.
Palm Beach County
On Aug. 24, 2007, 45-year-old Stephen Febonio told his father, Edwin Febonio, to look at a note he left in his bedroom if he did not return from an outing with his friend, Jose Alfaro. Febonio had done drywall work on a marijuana grow house that Alfaro operated in Parkland, and was threatening to turn Alfaro in if he didn’t get paid for the work. Febonio was never seen again, and the note he left had Alfaro’s name written on it along with the address of the grow house. Police interviewed Alfaro, but never filed any charges. On March 16, 2009, acting on a tip, police used radar to search a property in the 1200 block of Northwest 20th Avenue in Delray Beach, which at one time was used as a marijuana grow house. There, they found a deep freezer buried in the backyard. The freezer contained the body of Febonio. Since that time, genetic and forensic testing have been conducted. On Thursday, July 30, Alfaro, 27, was indicted and charged with first-degree murder with a firearm in the case, but he remains on the loose, according to authorities.
ALLEGED CROOKS CAPTURED
Kenneth Glenn, 19, Marquis Alfred, 19, and a 14-year-old juvenile whose name was not released were arrested in the robbery of two door-to-door clothing salesmen, according to police. Police say they lured the men to an apartment complex located at 2830 Avenue S in Riviera Beach, and robbed them at gunpoint on Saturday, Aug. 1. One of the salesmen fled and called police, who arrived and captured two of the suspected robbers in possession of clothes and cash, police said. Both gave full confessions, and the teen was taken into custody the next day on Sunday, August 2, according to police.
HOMESTEAD’S AVOCADO PROBLEM
Agents in the office of Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Commissioner Charles Bronson are evaluating the discovery of laurel wilt fungus found in avocado groves in Homestead. The fungus is carried by beetles, and kills avocado trees by cutting off the circulation of water and nutrients. This causes the leaves to wilt. The presence of the disease has also been found in at least three other avocado groves in Miami-Dade County, and it appears to be spreading. It has also been found in Duval and Okeechobee counties, which means trouble for Florida; the nation’s second-largest avocado-producing state.
ALLEGED CORRUPT POLICE
More than two weeks have passed since video allegedly showing several Hollywood police officers framing a driver, then fabricating a police report about a Feb. 17 accident that makes it appear the driver was the cause, when a police cruiser actually rear-ended her car. The alleged set-up was caught on a police cruiser’s dash camera, and now Hollywood Police Chief Chadwick Wagner is finally speaking out on the issue. Chadwick vows that there will be a full investigation, and is asking the public to withhold judgment until the probe is complete. Hollywood police crime-scene technician Andrea Tomassi, along with officers Joel Francisco, Dewey Pressley, Andrew Diaz and community service officer Karim Thomas are under investigation over the incident, and are suspended without pay. Alexandra Torrensvilas, 23, alleges she was set up after Officer Francisco slammed into the rear of her car. Officer Pressley arrived on the scene and, during questioning, Torrensvilas admitted she had been drinking. Pressley, a 21-year veteran, then made her perform sobriety tests, and arrested her for DUI. Torrensvilas alleges he then got the other officers to join him in fabricating a story that the officer was distracted by a cat jumping into his way. The charges against Torrensvilas have since been dropped, and the Broward State Attorney’s Office is also investigating. The Hollywood Police Department has a lineage of officers who have engaged in questionable conduct. If the allegations are true, this is yet another incident of despicable abuse of public trust that should warrant Gov. Charlie Crist to seat a commission to determine if this department should be dissolved, and hand over law enforcement to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Deerfield Beach City Manager Mike Mahaney unveiled his budget proposal on Tuesday, Aug. 4, and it raised a few eyebrows as well as criticism from Commissioner Bill Gantz. The budget calls for pay and longevity freezes this year, and for commissioners to consider privatizing some operations before next year’s budget. Why public employees get bonuses in the first place is beyond me, particularly at a time when many of the taxpayers who fund their salaries don’t have jobs at all. On the other hand, the unions are being asked to accept pay freezes. Yet it was Mahaney who advocated for managers to keep hefty raises that they gave themselves a few years ago, without commissioners’ knowledge or approval. You can look for some tough union negotiations in Deerfield Beach, and testy budget hearings over the next several weeks.
Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss, 29, remains locked up in protective custody in the Broward County jail system after being charged on Monday, Aug. 3 in the rape of a man during an alleged framed-up traffic stop. Bleiweiss is a seven-year, highly decorated veteran of the force. He worked the Oakland Park district and gained notoriety as an openly gay activist deputy. He was arrested after a four-month investigation into allegations he used his authority to intimidate and molest men during traffic stops. Investigators say Bleiweiss would prey on immigrant Latino men as they waited to catch rides to work. There, he would fondle and perform oral sex on them. Fearing deportation, many would not come forward with complaints. In some instances, he would follow them around in his patrol car, authorities say. At present, he has been charged in only one of the eight cases that are being investigated, but Sheriff Al Lamberti says more charges could be filed. In that one case, he faces 14 charges, including sexual battery by a person in authority, battery and stalking. Book’em, Dano!