EDUCATION LOAN SCAMS
During what looked like a campaign stop in Troy, N.Y. on Monday, Sept. 21, President Barack Obama expressed support for the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009. The act will change the way college loans are administered and collected. Currently, the federal government pays private banks to loan money for education, then guarantees the loans, in case students do not repay them. Private collection firms are allowed to pursue any outstanding loans, while getting paid for their efforts. Among other things, the new rules would remove the “middle-man” lending institutions from the process, and the government would lend directly to students and schools. Private collection companies would no longer be involved, either, leaving the entire program under the U.S. Department of Education, which has no income or profit incentives. For decades, unscrupulous financial institutions have engaged in unethical practices that awarded loans to unqualified students and schools, while raking in millions of dollars in profits. Collection firms have been equally, if not worse, offenders than the lending institutions in their business practices. The bill is making its way through Congress, and fearing what’s coming, collection firms are stepping up their efforts before the passage of any new laws. This should be stopped. The new regulations can’t come soon enough, but the president and Congress should stop this “last-minute” preying on loan recipients by the collection firms. Even if this proposal does not become law, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan must address the unethical business practices of firms with which his department subcontracts.
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Palm Beach County
On Monday, Sept. 28, Casey Gilbert, 20, was shot by her live-in boyfriend, who is also the father of their two children, according to police. Isaac Roberson, 23, then turned the gun on himself, according to authorities. The incident happened when Gilbert arrived home from work at the couple’s Belle Glade apartment. Roberson died of his gunshot wounds, but Gilbert survived and remains hospitalized. Family and friends of the couple told investigators that Roberson was unemployed and facing financial difficulties. But police said the cause of the violent act was Gilbert’s desire to end their five-year relationship.
SNATCH & GO
Two men snatched $1,685 from an unattended register in a Walmart at 3200 Old Boynton Road in Boynton Beach around 9:30 p.m. Monday night, Sept. 28. The men entered the store, investigators said. As one of them kept a look out, the other broke into the register. According to the police report, the men are believed to be part of a theft ring that has hit 43 Walmart stores around the country in recent weeks.
Tonya Davis Johnson was appointed to fill the vacant District 3 Riviera Beach city council seat on Monday, Sept. 28. She was selected over five other contenders, including former councilman Cedrick Thomas, who vacated the seat in July for an unsuccessful run for the state Legislature.
ARMED HOME INVASION
One person was shot and two others were pistol whipped in an early-morning home invasion at a home in the 1100 block of White Pine Drive in Wellington on Monday, Sept. 28. The gunshot victim is recovering in the hospital, and the other two were treated at the scene. The four suspects remain on the loose.
ANOTHER THEFT PROBE
The stealing and fraud just keeps on coming in the city of Deerfield Beach. This time, City Manager Mike Mahaney is dealing with employees who are alleged to have been caught stealing gasoline over the past several months. There was an investigation, but no action was taken, and residents say they are getting tired of the unpunished wrongdoing in Deerfield city hall.
Joe Rodriguez, the owner of the Cheetah Hallandale Beach strip club that was shut down by city officials in July has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that his First Amendment rights have been violated. Tipsters alleged that customers were being secretly videotaped in VIP rooms and worse. City Manager Mike Good terminated the club’s occupational licenses six months ago, after state authorities and local police raided the club during an undercover investigation into prostitution and drugs.
Police have concluded that a family of three found dead from gunshot wounds to their heads in their Sunrise home on Sunday, Sept. 27 were the victims of a double murder suicide. Quincy Kelly is believed to have shot his wife, Lisa, and the couple’s 13-year-old daughter, Soraya, before killing himself. Family members say they have no way of knowing why Quincy took the actions he did, and there was no sign of trouble in the young family.
Youbran Rafael Zebib-Nunez, 22, was arrested at 4 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 28, according to Miramar police. He was charged with burglarizing, then setting fire to a Blockbuster video store at 17051 Miramar Parkway in Miramar, police said. In bond court the next day, family members told the judge he has a gambling problem, which led him to take the desperate action.
Miami Lakes Town Councilman Nick Perdomo still has not apologized for his ridiculous comments about residents of Miami’s predominantly black Liberty City neighborhood. The incident happened during a Sept. 10 budget meeting. Town Manager Frank Bocanegra, who is a former Miami-Dade police officer working in the Liberty City area, learned that one of his office assistant positions was being eliminated due to budget cuts. Perdomo then explained at the meeting, “Frank, I know you're going to be fine, too. I mean, you were in Liberty City fighting the animals over there when you were younger, okay. You're going to be fine, and we're going to save the town’s folks $50,000 a year.”
CANDY JACKERS CAUGHT
In the wee morning hours of Friday, Sept. 25, a driver and co-worker from a distributing company were making a delivery to the Walgreens on Pinetree Drive in Miami Beach. They were approached by two men, one of them armed, who forced their way into the truck and locked the workers inside the truck’s refrigerator compartment. The robbers stole the truck and looted cases of cigarettes and boxes of candy before abandoning the truck a short distance away. Investigators said another employee of the company, Ricardo Guerra, had provided the two robbers, Santo Salazar Montecel and Jose Mancion, with information about the truck’s route, as well as its cargo. All three are charged with armed carjacking, armed kidnapping, armed robbery and grand theft, according to police.