elgin_jones_web_13.jpgPalm Beach County

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw along with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies conducted “Operation Money Tree.” It targeted Fajita’s Meat and Fish Market, a Palm Springs neighborhood store for EBT [food stamp] fraud.  The government was allegedly cheated out of an estimated $2.8 million in recent years. Records show the tiny store did more EBT transactions per month than some Super Walmarts. Two brothers, Hadi and Ali Jaber, owners, have been arrested.

Employee Daniel Velazquez has also been charged. They are accused of allowing customers to use their government-issued nutrition debit cards to make phony grocery purchases. Instead of groceries, customers allegedly  received 50 percent of the debited value in cash, netting hefty profits for the store. EBT debit cards are issued by the state and funded in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is intended to provide food for low-income people. Customers who engaged in the practice are not off the hook. Operation Money Tree investigators have been making arrests and are still seeking the whereabouts of those who participated. Book ’em Danno!

There is a storm is the city of Boca Raton and conditions are expected to worsen, so take cover. The director of the city’s pension office, Debra Sears, has resigned and the number two person in that office, benefits analyst Karen Good, has been fired. City council candidate Craig Ehrnst, a financial expert, is calling for an independent investigation. There are rumors of documents being destroyed amid questions about the pension’s performance. City Manager Leif Ahnell contends the situation “is being monitored,” which is surprising. A number of agencies have jurisdiction over public pensions, but if documents are missing, then it demands an investigation to see what may have taken place.

Broward County

Scott Hammack, CEO of Hollywood-based data security firm Prolexic Technologies, announced plans to create 118 new jobs and to relocate its operations. Prolexic will move to a 35,000-square-foot space in the New River Office Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale, across from the Broward Governmental Center. Network engineers, cyber-security specialists, sales and marketing professionals will be hired at average annual salaries of $100,000.

Bridgette Evans, 35, a former fortune teller who has twice been to prison for swindling people of cash and jewelry with psychic con games, was out on parole. Now she is back in jail for parole violation due to cocaine use. Wonder why she didn’t call a psychic to warn her about this?

Former state senator Mandy Dawson was recently released from prison after being detained over parole violations. She failed drug tests for cocaine on two occasions and has failed to pay a $29,272 tax bill. Dawson, 57, spent two weeks in a federal lock-up and was out on bail pending a hearing. Her case is scheduled to be heard in Miami in January, where she could be sent to prison. She served six months of a two-year sentence for tax evasion for hiding money she earned from lobbyist Alan Mendelsohn, who bought her influence and votes.

Miami-Dade County

Four men, described as black and wearing masks, invaded a home in northwest Miami-Dade County and robbed a family and guests who gathered there for a prayer meeting. They intended to exchange gifts, but were robbed. They demanded cash, stole presents and fled into the neighborhood. Police are seeking the public’s help in finding these suspects. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 305-471-8477.

Florida Highway Patrol trooper Angel F. Rogers-Milton may have been trying to get her groove back, but she should not have done it while on the job. FHP Director Col. David H. Brierton has demoted Rogers-Milton from her post as a sergeant in Troop E in Miami. According to documents from an internal investigation, Rogers-Milton admitted having sex with subordinates, on multiple occasions. Some of the sex acts even took place at work and inside of FHP patrol vehicles and were captured on a cell phone video, which was circulated around the agency. One of the troopers she is accused of having a relationship with is married and his wife also works in Troop E. That spouse confronted Rogers-Milton, who denied it, but there were concerns violence could have erupted. Trooper Donche Robinson was reprimanded for showing a video of Rogers-Milton engaged in a sex act with him. In addition to being demoted, Rogers-Milton has been transferred to FHP Troop K, in the Snapper Creek area of Miami-Dade County.

The clowns who were captured on surveillance video stealing Christmas gifts from the front doorsteps of numerous Miami-Dade homes were arrested. Gerardo Benedit and Victoria Lopez, both 20, can be seen stealing packages and then throwing them in the back seat of their car and driving away. Police were able to identify the vehicle and track it to their home, where they were arrested.

Monroe County

Richard K. Agnew, 86, a pilot and the former manager of the Marathon Airport, has passed away. He is best remembered for helping four East Germans defect while they were passengers on a cruise ship in the Florida Straits, on the way to Cuba. An avid photographer and video camera man, Agnew filmed it all. The retired military veteran also did freelance camera work for numerous media outlets.

Residents cheered after Monroe County commissioners approve $14.2 million to go toward saving and restoring the historic old Seven-Mile Bridge. They voted 4-to-1, with Commissioner Danny Kolhage casting the only NO vote, in favor of the funding. The bridge has been closed to vehicle traffic and fishing for years after the Florida Department of Transportation has determined it to be unsafe. DOT proposes to pay about $57 million over the 30 years to go toward restoring the landmark. But even that falls short of the estimated $77 million required. The town of Marathon voted to pay $5.3 million and it all amounts to enough to save portions of the bridge.