ronald-reagan-web.jpgDRUG WAR
A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has struck down a section of a law that allowed the U.S. Coast Guard to capture and arrest suspected drug smugglers on the high seas within 12 miles of their countries’ borders.

The court found that Congress exceeded its powers and constitutional authority when it passed the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act in 1986 with then President Ronald Reagan’s blessings. The sentences of several convicted drug smugglers have now been vacated and it is not yet known how many other cases will be affected. The U.S. Coast Guard routinely makes such arrests off the coasts of Caribbean countries, as well as South American and Central American nations such as Colombia, Panama, Guatemala and Honduras.

Palm Beach County

Michael Venditto, 27, of Boca Raton, is a former cheerleading coach with the Palm Beach Lightning All Stars, a highly regarded gymnastics club in Lake Park. He has now been arrested over allegations he had sexual relations with at least two teenage girls, whom he coached, on numerous occasions since 2009. One of the girls was 14 at the time of the alleged acts. Venditto was fired from the team in June after the allegations became known.

Riviera Beach City Councilman Shelby L. Lowe is proposing an afterschool program for youth that would be based on chess. Lowe, a U.S. Navy veteran, played chess as a child and while serving in the military and believes the game will help students in the classroom. Lowe is finalizing the plan and has been consulting with the U.S. Chess Federation. His plan will be presented to the Palm Beach County School District and the Riviera Beach City Council for consideration. Any afterschool program is a good idea but this one is great. Not only will it provide an incentive to study but it will also offer a safe haven for students.

ADT Corp. spun off from its parent corporation, Tyco International, and became a separate, publicly traded company. ADT, which is headquartered in Boca Raton, hired more than 600 workers this year and Chief Executive Naren Gursa haney announced the company is adding another 120 people. ADT is the country’s largest security company, with more than 6.5 million customers. The company has expanded its services to include home monitoring. ADT was offered $1.6 million in incentives through Gov. Rick Scott’s Enterprise Florida program. It also received $184,000 from Palm Beach County.

Broward County

John Stabile stalked and then killed a homeless man in Deerfield Beach with a butcher’s knife he retrieved from his kitchen, police say. Stabile, 23, told Broward Sheriff’s detectives he made sure the man was dead before calling 911 to report the murder. Stabile, who has a history of mental illness, confessed to the crime, police said. He told police he wanted to spend the rest of his life behind bars and if freed would kill someone else. The chilling attack occurred in an alley behind Rattlesnake Jake’s restaurant in the 2000 block of Ocean Drive, near the beach. Stabile’s first-degree murder charge could be upgraded to premeditated status.

Lauderhill Mayor Richard Kaplan and city commissioners are considering new rules to regulate home secury system false alarms. The revised regulations would increase the fees and reduce the number of times a property owner would be allowed to have police respond to false alarms without being fined or charged. Other municipalities have wrestled with the issue for years and some, like Fort Lauderdale, have had to revise their ordinances after it was discovered they overcharged residents for false alarm violations.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office is investigating Fort Lauderdale police officers Sgt. Gayle “Dean” Schoen and Kimberly DiCristofalo following a complaint alleging they falsified police reports related to a 2004 accident. The accident in question involved Lt. Pedro Cacheiro, of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Peter Szymanksi, a retired Detroit police officer. Szymanski alleges he was riding his bicycle along A1A when Cacheiro drove into him, throwing him to the ground and knocking him unconscious. Szymanski says he was severely injured and taken to a hospital by Fort Lauderdale paramedics. He suffered permanent brain damage and injuries to his spine, requiring several surgeries. Schoen and DiCristofalo responded to the scene. Cacheiro was not given a traffic citation initially but after Szymanski complained to the Fort Lauderdale police Internal Affairs, Schoen was ordered to issue him a citation. However, the delayed citation reportedly said no injuries were suffered during the accident, causing the insurance company to reject Szymanski’s claim and refuse to pay his bills.

Miami-Dade County

Errold Peart, a former professional cricket player and owner of a car wash in Miami Gardens, was killed this past weekend. Miami Gardens police detectives, who are investigating, say they believe Peart tried to intervene when he saw two men trying to rob one of his customers and he was shot several times. The Jamaican native was well-liked and known for helping people and hiring seemingly unemployable men from his neighborhood. The suspects are described as being 17 to 20 years old and are considered armed and dangerous. Police are asking anyone with information to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

Andrew Johnson, a 46-year-old Miami-Dade County correctional officer, was shot and killed in the driveway of his Miami Gardens home. It happened in the 200 block of Northwest 211 Street in unincorporated Miami-Dade County. Details are few and police have no motive for the killing. Johnson was a 10-year veteran of the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department. Police are asking anyone with information on the shooting to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez is supporting a plan to bring the county in compliance with federal environmental standards. The Justice Department and federal regulators are negotiating with the county over its dilapidated sewer system which has been contaminating wetlands, waterways and underground aquifers for decades. In an effort to avoid potentially tens of millions of dollars in fines, county officials are proposing a $1.5 billion 15-year plan to replace pipes, pumping stations and sewage treatment plants throughout Miami-Dade. The county is also proposing to replace more than 7,500 miles of sewer pipes that regularly have to be repaired. Taxpayers should brace themselves because increases in utility bills are coming.