TROUBLE FOR MEEK?
Shunning his party, former Democratic congressman Robert Wexler announ-ced he was endorsing Independent Gov. Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate.
Recent polls show Republican Marco Rubio widening his lead over Crist and Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek in the three-way race. Wexler may not be the last Democrat to jump ship as other nervous Democrats are wondering whether they should throw their support behind Crist if Meek does not improve in the polls within the next week.
SINK GETS GOP ENDORSEMENT
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink has been endorsed by Republican state Sen. Alex Villalobos of Miami. Sink is in a virtual tie with Republican nominee Rick Scott in the governor’s race. This is not the first time Villalobos has shunned his party’s candidates. Recently, he also threw his support behind Independent candidate Gov. Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate race.
INTERNET WIRETAPPING COMING
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and other members of President Barack Obama’s administration are drafting legislation that would mandate wireless and Internet-based companies to provide access to law enforcement and national security agencies so they can eavesdrop on Internet and wireless communication. Officials say the new law is required because terrorist groups are not using hard wired phones as much, opting instead for Blackberries, Skype and social networking sites such as Facebook.
Palm Beach County
BRIGHT TO GET SEVERANCE
Lisa Bright, the embattled director of Boynton Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), will get $42,123 in severance even though she is under criminal investigation and a private investigator hired by the city determined she had ties to vendors who got CRA contracts. Commissioners, sitting as the CRA Board, voted 4-1 last week not to renew Bight’s contract, which expires Oct. 1. Some commissioners seemed confused and wanted to terminate her contract immediately to avoid paying her any severance. But a motion that would have fired her died due to lack of support. Bright earns $128,125 and the $42,123 was for 120 days of severance.
FORMER SHERIFF DIES
Former Palm Beach County Sheriff Ed Bieluch, 68, died Sunday, Sept. 25, of cancer. Bieluch was elected sheriff in 2000 after working for the agency for nearly 30 years. He came under fire for reopening the faith-based dorm inside the jail and lowering the minimum requirements for deputies. He decided against running for reelection in 2004 and instead became an Anglican priest.
KIDDIE PORN ARRESTS
Jose Omar Garcia Sanchez, of Lantana, was charged with more than 20 counts of possession of child pornography after movies of children having sex with adults were found on his home computer, according to police. Boynton Beach Police said they tracked his IP address to his home after he downloaded movies from a kiddie porn website. In a separate incident, Robert Coletto, 46, of Boca Raton was arrested after police said they found child pornography on his home computer. Coletto is already a registered sex offender and was arrested after he allegedly made the pictures available to be downloaded over the Internet. Book’em, Dano!
DEPUTY GUILTY OF RAPE
A jury convicted Broward Sheriff’s Office detention deputy Charles Edward Floyd on Sept. 27 of kidnapping and raping an inmate. The incident allegedly occurred on June 13, 2007, when the unnamed woman was an inmate in the Broward Jail and Floyd was transporting her to another facility. He was accused of taking her to a remote area and forcing her to perform oral sex prior to raping her. Prosecutors used DNA and department records to build their case against Floyd.
Dushaun Smith, president of Keep the Faith Ministries, is accused of scamming black-owned daycare providers out of tens of thousands of dollars. Police said Smith signed up dozens of low-income children to attend area daycares at a cost of $20 per week, which would be paid to his organization. The remaining tuition was supposed be paid by his organization with federal grants he secured. Those daycare owners now say they have not been paid and the children’s parents can’t afford to pay. It remains unclear if Smith ever received any grants. He is in a Leon County jail on unrelated counterfeiting and forgery charges.
NO JENNE PENSION
Former Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne, 63, has lost his latest and likely final challenge to a state decision to strip him of his $134,500 per year pension funded by taxpayers. On Sept. 28, the Florida Supreme Court denied his appeal of a lower court’s decision in the case. Jenne’s pension was taken away after he pleaded guilty to mail fraud and filing false tax returns in 2008, for which he served 10 months in a federal penitentiary.
Alfonso Perez, the attorney representing former Homestead city manager Mike Shehadeh in his wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuit, has filed a motion seeking to have City Attorney Richard Weiss and his law firm, Weiss Serota, removed from the case. If the motion is granted, it would mean the city will have to hire outside counsel to defend itself in the case. Perez contends Weiss Serota advised Shehadeh on some of the very issues used as the basis for firing Shehadeh, including awarding contracts to Shehadeh’s brother. The motion also alleges Weiss Serota negotiated Shehadeh’s employment agreement and advised him to go on administrative leave without informing him of his rights. The law firm has yet to file a response to the motion but it will be interesting since Perez included several internal city e-mais as documentation to support his claims.
Elgin Jones may be reached at EJones@sfltimes.com.