After relocating from South Carolina to Deerfield Beach with my family as a 4-year-old child, I lived next door to another family who welcomed us to the area. Their backyard was full of fruit trees, and the mother would summon me to take some of the fruit. She owned a truck, and would drive us children to work in the fields, picking beans, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and other vegetables. She had five children. The oldest two were girls.
The three boys, along with my siblings and me, spent many dawn-to-dusk days in those fields together. Their mother was one of many people in that community who taught us hard work, responsibility and how to stay out of trouble. It was not uncommon for her to take a switch to us when we didn’t listen. After several years, we moved just down the street to another location, but I always kept in touch with them. The girls and the oldest son were much older than I was, and likely have no idea who I am. But I did attend elementary, middle and high school with her two youngest sons. After moving away from Deerfield Beach in 1978, I still saw them from time to time. When I became a newspaper reporter in 1998, and began writing articles about now-disgraced former Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, including the numerous children he bore out of wedlock, that family’s mother would call me to offer her opinions, outrage and frustration with Eggelletion. Between curse words, she would tell me how proud she was of me. This went on for years, and I always appreciated her candor. Sometimes, her husband would participate in the discussions. After Eggelletion pleaded guilty to money-laundering last week, I did not get a call from her. It’s understandable, though I do intend to reach out to her after a while. You see, her name is Elsie Taylor, and her husband, who passed away recently, was Leo Taylor. They are the parents of Eggelletion’s wife, Carolyn. We lived on Northwest Fifth Court with the Taylors for many years, and right next door for several of those years. I just think Joe should know.

During the special legislative session in Tallahassee that ended just over a week ago, FBI agents were in town, interviewing people and taking statements about former state Sen. Mandy Dawson. This is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into Republican fundraiser Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, who was arrested in Sept. 29 on campaign law violations. Mendelsohn is accused of paying an $87,000 bribe to an “unnamed” legislator in 2006, through consultant Venica Blakely, who is cooperating with authorities. Blakely worked for Dawson as an aide, and Dawson is widely believed to be the unnamed recipient of the bribe. Oh, Mandy, if you did take the bribe, start talking, because everyone else is.

Palm Beach County

On Monday, Dec 14, Avion Lawson, 17, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the gruesome June 2007 gang rape of a mother, who was also forced at gunpoint to engage in sex acts with her son. The atrocious acts occurred at the Dunbar Village housing project in West Palm Beach. As many as 15 other teenagers may have been involved; three of whom are awaiting trial. Lawson must testify against his co-defendants. By doing so, he avoided 50 years plus 11 life terms in prison. Book’em, Dano!

Broward County

Ronald Rivera, 22, was arrested in Birmingham, Ala. and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Elvin Sanchez, 40, whose body was found outside a home in Deerfield Beach on the night of Oct. 25.  The body was found at the home in the 4100 block of NW Third Ave., where a party was taking place at the time. BSO says Rivera has confessed to the killing.

Miami-Dade County

Carol Taylor was murdered Friday, Dec. 4 at about 8 p.m. She was shot multiple times with a high-powered rifle while she was driving a silver Honda in the 3800 block of NW 170th Street in Miami Gardens. Witnesses say a red Pontiac GT was seen speeding from the scene. Police say they have no motive, and that it may have been a mistaken-identity killing. Taylor was on her way to a home in the area to get her hair done, and has no connection to the neighborhood. She has no police record or criminal history. Anyone with information is asked to call Miami Gardens Police at 305-474-1566 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at Call 305-471-8477.