elginjones3web.gifCHECK FRAUD
Authorities with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are warning Floridians about a fake check scam making its way around the state. Here’s how it works: A $985 check is mailed to unsuspecting people. It appears to be from a legitimate company. A letter on the company’s letterhead claims the check represents the initial tax payment from an $8,000 benefits reward program. The recipient is asked to cash the check, and then wire $810 back to the company to cover the taxes. The company promises to release the total amount after it receives the tax-payment check. But the initial checks that the company mails out are fakes, and the wired money actually goes to the bank account of the con artists, never to be seen again. Anyone who cashes the bad checks will later have the money withdrawn from their accounts, and must also pay any fees and penalties. Anyone who has received one of these checks is asked to contact the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-435-7352.

Miami-Dade County

On Monday, Oct. 12, Juan Carlos “DJ Seasunz” Portieles, a local disk jockey, drove to the Miami-Dade Police headquarters in Doral and confessed to killing his girlfriend, Jaclyn Elisse Torrealba. He also informed officers that he had her body outside the station, in his car. According to the police report, Portieles and Torrealba reportedly argued and fought while driving the evening before. He ended up choking her to death. Before turning himself in, he drove around with her body inside the car to tell friends what had happened. He is being held without bond.

Corey Gamble, 33, was shot and killed by a female acquaintance during a domestic dispute on Sunday, Oct. 12 at a home in the 1400 block of Northwest First Court in Florida City. The shooting happened at around 12:40 a.m. The woman was questioned, but not taken into custody. According to sources, the two had a history of domestic violence. The investigation continues.

Palm Beach County

Talk about wild. On Thursday, Oct. 8, Rachelle Gruner, 24, and Jamie B. Rengifo, 21, both strippers, were arrested after getting into a fight at the Dreamgirls strip club at 1000 N. Congress Ave. in West Palm Beach, where they work. They are accused of fighting and hitting a female patron over the head with a beer bottle. Gruner is charged with aggravated battery; Rengifo is charged with battery, according to police.

Students at Palm Beach Community College’s Lake Worth campus are being asked to watch their surroundings and to employ safety measures after a student was robbed at gunpoint last week in a parking lot. The attack happened on Oct. 7 in broad daylight, around lunchtime. Campus police have not released any information or a description of the alleged attacker.

Broward County

In a horrific attack, 15-year-old Michael Brewer was splashed with a flammable liquid and set on fire as he sat by the pool at the Lime Tree Apartments in the 400 block of Southeast 13th Court in Deerfield Beach, where he lives. The attack took place on Monday, Oct. 12. Brewer jumped into a swimming pool. A neighbor used an extinguisher to put out the fire. The child suffered burns over 75 percent of his body and remains hospitalized. Five juveniles have been arrested in the attack.

In recent years, a number of popular local politicians have been forced to leave elected office due to voter-imposed term limits. Among them are former Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle and City Commissioner Carlton Moore, and Lauderdale Lakes City Commissioner John Billingsley. But a quiet circle of politicos are now scrutinizing a 2002 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that found such limits can only be imposed by changing the state’s Constitution. Henry Cook, the former City Clerk of Courts in Jacksonville, was forced out by term limits, and filed the initial challenge. That case was later combined with a similar one out of Pinellas County. The ruling only impacted those two counties, but it has paved the way for challenges to other localities that have implemented term limits approved by voters, instead of an amendment to the Florida Constitution.

Fausto “TJ” Tejero, 40, was a highly decorated and popular deputy with the Broward Sheriff’s Office. On Friday, Oct. 9, however, he was arrested and charged, for allegedly helping Deputy Manuel Silva, who was arrested on Oct. 2, accused of looking the other way on drug operations in exchange for money. Sheriff Al Lamberti has made a priority of exposing and arresting allegedly corrupt deputies, and more arrests are on the way.

On Tuesday, Sept. 29 the Ely High School Tigers held their annual “Spirit Night” pep rally for the football team prior to the Homecoming game. According to some parents, and the 911 logs from the Broward Sheriff’s Office, it did not disappoint. Deputies were dispatched to reports of over 100 students who were brawling at the school, where gunshots were also reportedly fired. Parents say there were no adults or security guards at the event, and they are demanding an investigation. School Board Member Ben Williams says school staff informed him that two girls argued, but there was no fighting, and no shots were fired. The parents, however, dispute that notion, and some have written letters to schools Superintendent Jim Notter, demanding an investigation.