elgin_jones_web_13.jpgPalm Beach County

Big Sugar just got bigger. West Palm Beach-based ASR Group, which owns Florida Crystals sugar refining operations in Belle Glade, has purchased a 50 percent share of Raffineria di Brindisi, which is the second largest sugar producer in Europe. It makes ASR a global player in the world sugar market. It’s unclear what impact the deal could have locally. Hopefully it will result in more jobs.

Former WPTV-Channel 5 weatherman Rob Lopicola has been convicted of engaging in sex with a teenage boy he met through a Craigslist advertisement. He was also convicted of one count of computer pornography and child exploitation. Palm Beach Circuit Court Judge Barry Cohen set sentencing for Dec. 6. Lopicola, a 43-year-old Wilton Manors resident, is facing up to 20 years in prison. He is still awaiting trial in a separate case in which he is charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

Vincent Philipps, the 25-year-old Florida Atlantic University student who reported he was kidnapped from the school campus and then beaten and forced to withdraw money from an ATM, made the whole thing up. Police determined that Philipps was actually beaten while paying off a debt in Broward County, with no connection to the university. But the hoax spread through the campus, setting off a frenzy of activities and fear. FAU Police Chief Charles Lowe said Phillips may face criminal charges over the false report.

Broward County

Anthony “Little Tony” Ferrari was convicted of murder and conspiracy in the Feb. 6, 2001, contract killing of Miami Subs founder Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis. Ferrari, 56, could face the death penalty. Co-defendant Anthony “Big Tony” Moscatiello, 75, will be tried later. A third man, James “Pudgy” Fiorillo, pleaded guilty in a plea deal in 2012 and he is expected to get time served for the six years he spent in prison. Prosecutors told jurors that a contract was put out on Boulis over the sale of his fleet of SunCruz Casino boats. In a complicated sales agreement, Boulis began questioning the deal after he was not paid as agreed, which led Moscatiello to order the hit on Boulis.

Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bobby DuBose and Lauderdale Lakes City Commissioner Levoyd Williams are facing off for the District 94 state house seat. It is being vacated by House Leader Perry E. Thurston Jr., who is facing term limits. DuBose is popular and is often mentioned as a future Fort Lauderdale mayoral candidate. Williams is an experienced city commissioner who is expected to get support and endorsements from politicos such as former Fort Lauderdale commissioner Carlton Moore and his neighbor, former Broward  Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion. This race won’t get nasty but the tactics will be brutal.

Gabriel Chauveland, 54, and Joan Alalof Jean, 45, are the targets of yet another criminal investigation. It involves their company, Private Mortgage Funding Corp., which is being investigated by Fort
Lauderdale police over fraud allegations.  Now prosecutors with the Broward State Attorney’s Office are investigating and the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office and other departments could follow. Their customers comprise of mostly Haitian immigrants, some of whom have accused Chauveland and Jean of taking deposits for mortgages but not completing the deals. They advertise on Haitian radio and police placed ads on those same stations seeking information about more possible victims, which has resulted in more than a dozen additional complainants. Fort Lauderdale police are asking anyone with information about the company to call 954-828-6070.

Miami-Dade County

The NBA champion Miami Heat opened the season on its home court this week. Lebron James and his teammates were presented with their NBA championship rings. The championship banner was raised and the Heat is on its way to a third straight championship. If the Heat should ever need my outside shooting this year, I’m waiting for the call.

Veteran Pinecrest Police officer Kevin McKenzie, 38, has been arrested on four counts of having sex with a 16-year-old. McKenzie, who has 13 years on the job, has been relieved of duty with pay. Police Chief Samuel Ceballos said he is recommending that he be fired.

Monroe County

Key Largo resident Donald Lowrie is a decorated veteran of the first Gulf War. Even though he suffered from a broken back at the start of the war, he continued to fight for weeks. Once the fighting let up, he was transported to a hospital in Saudi Arabia, where doctors fused his spine and implanted six screws. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Army Commendation Medal, the Valorous Unit award and the Saudi Arabian Liberation of Kuwaiti Medal. More than 22 years later, Lowrie is finally being given those awards, which were delayed due to an error. His military records will also be updated to reflect his honors. The Key Largo Veterans of Foreign Wars is honoring Lowrie at this year’s Veteran’s Day ceremony. It is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11, at the Blue Star Memorial in Key Largo.

Robert Parlette Jr., 73, was shot and killed by Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies. According to authorities, when deputies responded to a home in an upscale neighborhood of Islamorada, a neighbor told them Parlette was behind a home with a gun. Deputies said when they approached, Parlette shot at them and they returned fire, hitting him in the chest. He was rushed to Mariner’s Hospital in nearby Tavernier, where he was pronounced dead. Carol Frederick, Agent-in-Charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Southern Region, said they are conducting a review of the shooting, which is routine in cases like this.