Citizens Insurance, the state-run carrier for homes that private insurers will not cover, will begin dropping some property owners, driving them into those same private-sector insurance companies.
This is another of Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts to kill off Citizens. Affected homeowners will be able to opt out but many might be confused and leave Citizens for the for-profit companies. Those remaining with Citizens can expect an 11- percent rate increase, not because it’s necessary but because the Republican-controlled Legislature does not want to increase competition for private insurers.
GO WEST, QUICK!
Republican Rep. Allen West has used his Democratic opponent Patrick Murphy’s 2003 college arrest photo in a campaign ad. Murphy was arrested nine years ago for disorderly intoxication and possessing a fake driver's license. It’s a dirty thing for West to do but it’s fair game in the world of politics, I guess. However, West’s ad is creating concern among some Republicans because Murphy is not the only politician who has had a brush with the law. GOP U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack, for example, has his own issues with the law.
Palm Beach County
Piters Clerfont, 33, of Boynton Beach was arrested for allegedly carrying on a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl. Clerfont told police the child blackmailed him into having sex with her numerous times beginning in 2008. He is claiming the girl told him if he didn’t have sex with her she would tell her parents that he did anyway. He is being held in the Palm Beach County Jail without bond.
Corinne Brizuela, a 50-year-old wheelchair-bound Boca Raton woman, was arrested on drug-trafficking charges. Acting on a tip, law-enforcement agents, including members of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s SWAT team, raided her home. When they broke down the doors and got inside, they say, Brizuelea wheeled herself into the master bedroom, where she was caught. Hundreds of pills were confiscated, police said.
CUT IT OUT!
Joseph B. Duval, 37, of West Palm Beach was arrested after his wife accused him of hitting her with the handle section of a pair of scissors. The couple had argued because they couldn’t get registration for their vehicle. The woman suffered non-life threatening bruises. Duval was taken into custody.
Broward Sheriff’s deputy Matthew Eisenberg has been charged with beating up a homeless man in 2010. The folks in BSO headquarters are stirred by an email sent by Eisenberg’s attorney, Al Milian, who is demanding an investigation into the release of the police report and other materials related to the arrest to the media prior to Eisenberg’s arraignment. Milian had some choice words for Sheriff Al Lamberti, who spoke to the media about the arrest. He questions if it was all planned for political reasons. Lamberti is up for re-election in November. Ouch!
Dr. Clara S. Rodriguez-Iznaga of Plantation was arraigned in an Ashland, Ky., federal court on prescription drug dealing and money laundering conspiracy charges. The indictment also charged William James Muldoon Jr. and Jody Robinson with the same charges. Federal prosecutors allege Robinson owned a pain-management clinic in Plantation and another in Ohio that were used to distribute painkillers in Kentucky.
Fort Lauderdale police arrested Robert Martinez-Valerino and Kyle Spellacy in connection with the armed robbery of a Walgreen’s Pharmacy on Sept. 29. When officers arrived on the scene, Martinez-Valerino was there and he told them he attempted to capture the robbers but they got away. The investigation determined he was actually one of the suspects. Police say both men confessed to the crime.
As part of Operation Double Dip, a federal crackdown on unemployment fraud, U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer announced the arrest of 10 people in Broward County. They are Haley K. Barnett, 34, of Pembroke Pines; Reyna Duarte-Valles, 49, of Tamarac; Clarence Calvin Griffin, 66, of Miramar; Gina Diane Innocent, 41, of Deerfield Beach; Arold Joseph Michel, 52, of Pembroke Pines; Randy Millard, 50, of Pembroke Pines; Robert Ray Orange, 46, of Lauderhill; Victoria Ordunez, 40, of Sunrise; Linda Ann Phillips, 40, of Lauderhill; and Jennifer E. Weissman, 37, of Sunrise. They are accused of lying in order to obtain unemployment benefits. Each is charged with mail or wire fraud for receiving the checks, which total between $10,000 and $15,000, by mail or direct deposit and they face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Larrie M. Lovett III, director of the Brownsville Community Development Corp., was arrested on charges of grand theft and organized scheme to defraud The Children’s Trust. The Miami-Dade County Office of the Inspector General and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office accuse Lovett of conspiring to divert grant funds for his personal use. The CDC was given a contract to operate a youth program in Miami's Brownsville and Liberty City neighborhoods totaling $1.6 million from 2007 through 2009. Among other things, Lovett is accused of submitting false invoices to the trust to cover expenses for personal trips and other items.
Candidates Manny Machado and Juan C. Zapata are competing in the Miami-Dade County Commission District 11 race to replace outgoing Commissioner Joe Martinez. The contest is nasty, simply said. In mailers and radio spots, they are accusing each other of all sorts of things, most of which have nothing to do with the unincorporated district they are seeking to represent. The bitterness is likely to linger long after the election.
U.S. District Court Judge William J. Zloch is expected to render his decision in the case of Kenneth Steffen any time now. The 64-year-old, now an inmate at a state prison in Doral, was arrested in 2003 for allegedly selling prescription painkillers to undercover Broward Sheriff’s detectives on two occasions. He was released from jail in 2004 on a pre-sentencing agreement and allowed to return to his Oklahoma home to be treated for cancer.
Over the next four years, his sentencing date was reset several times. When his court date was scheduled, his attorney at the time told him not to appear. During that time, Steffen was arrested for driving without a license and police discovered a warrant for his arrest in Broward County for failing to appear for the sentencing court date. In 2008, Broward Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Imperato sentenced the terminally ill man to 15 years in prison, which is essentially a life sentence. Hopefully Judge Zloch will correct this injustice.