Tamarac Vice Mayor Elberg Mike Gelin has a well documented problem with deputies of the Broward Sheriff’s Office. In September 2019, Gelin made national headlines after he interrupted an awards ceremony for BSO Deputy Joshua Gallardo. Gelin recognized Gallardo as the man who arrested him in 2015. Instead of an award, Gelin called Gallardo a “bad cop,” a “rogue police officer and accused Gallardo of lying on police report. In June 2020, Gelin used a Tamarac Commission meeting to show a video highlighting BSO “brutality” and “misconduct.” Despite his views of BSO, Gelin appears to have no issue co-hosting a City event with a BSO deputy who served five years in prison after he was accused of forcing illegal immigrants to perform sexual acts.
Across social media, Elberg Mike Gelin promotes a “Second Chance Event Free Sealing and Expungement Workshop” on May 14th at the Tamarac Community Center. This type of workshop helps citizens seal and even destroy records of past criminal behavior. Gelin is listed as a host of the event along with the City of Tamarac, Trulieve, and the Florida Justice Center.
The founder and executive director of The Florida Justice Center (FLJC) is Jonathan Bleiweiss.
Jonathan Bleiweiss joined BSO in 2002. According to the Sun-Sentinel, reports of Bleiweiss’ misconduct began in August 2008. “Bleiweiss’ picture was posted in an Oakland Park soup kitchen, with a warning to stay away from him. The Sheriff’s Office removed him from road patrol in July 2009.” Bleiweiss was arrested in August 2009 after twenty men accused Bleweiss of sexual misconduct. Most of the men were illegal immigrants. Bleiweiss “faced more than 70 charges, many accusing him of sexual battery,” the Sun-Sentinel reported.
In 2009, Thomas Francis of The New Times spoke with one of Bleiweiss’ victims. Francis reported the victim met Bleiweiss “in gay chatrooms on AOL.” The victim said Bleiweiss admitted he was a law enforcement officer.
“Oh yes, he told me he was a cop, I asked him questions about his job. He really didn’t say much about it. He just said he keeps the criminals off the streets and what not. Of course, this led to him talking about him handcuffing me and F’ing my Mexican A*S, which really bothered me, and he always asked me for pictures, every day all day.”
The New Times detailed the case against Jonathan Bleiweiss. “Bleiweiss preyed upon illegal immigrants, asking them to show identification. If they didn’t have it, say investigators, Bleiweiss would offer to let them walk in exchange for sex acts. He’s accused of fondling one such immigrant in April. Another victim claims he was pulled over by Bleiweiss, who ordered the man into the back seat, then performed oral sex on him.”
In 2019, The Florida Bulldog interviewed Neva Rainford-Smith, the prosecutor who took over the Bleiweiss case in 2013. Rainford-Smith said the details were “horrific.”
“Witnesses to Bleiweiss’ activities in his Oakland Park district said he would target and stalk young men who were especially vulnerable because they knew they could be deported. Then he would pounce, force them to give him sexual gratification, walk away and repeat the offense over and over again. Some of his victims attended the same church, Rainford-Smith said. ‘The priest would warn them to be aware of this police officer. They all knew to run when they saw him coming.’”
In February 2015, Jonathan Bleiweiss accepted a plea deal from the Broward State Attorney’s Office. Bleiweiss “pleaded guilty to 14 counts of armed false imprisonment, 15 counts of battery and four counts of stalking. He will also serve 10 years of probation and have to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation, Broward Circuit Judge Michael Robinson ordered.” As part of the plea deal, Bleiweiss did not have to register as a sexual offender. The move drew a strong rebuke from then Broward Public Defender “Help Me” Howard Finklestein.
“Finkelstein, whose office defends the indigent but didn’t handle Bleiweiss’ case, said he ‘was scratching his head’ when he learned Bleiweiss avoided ‘sex offender’ status, an outcome he called ‘shocking and shameful to the whole county.’”
In the same 2019 Florida Bulldog article, Help Me Howard questioned the quality of Bleiweiss’ Florida Justice Center.
“It sounds like ‘I’ve got a website, send me money and I’ll spend it,’” Finklestein said. “I have no idea what he’s bringing to the table that he wants money for…I’m not aware that he has a stellar reputation in the legal community, that you would think he’d have the right contacts to match defendants with lawyers.”
“He’s a bad cop who should have nothing to do with justice,” Finkelstein said.
Jonathan Bleiweiss told the Florida Bulldog, “he accepted a deal to avoid trial even though he knew he was innocent, and took a plea that doesn’t admit guilt.”
“I wouldn’t admit to something that I never did,” Bleiweiss said. “I’ve always believed in doing what’s right and I’m trying to keep pursuing that.”
On the FLJC website, Bleiweiss plays the victim card. Bleiweiss says “he was forced to accept a deal for a crime he did not commit due to a common prosecutorial practice called overcharging.”
In February 2022, Jonathan Bleiweiss was arrested for violating the terms of his probation. His parole officer reported that Bleiweiss failed to complete his required sex offender treatment program.
Bleiweiss has tried to force the court to repeal his plea agreement. The case is currently under appeal.
Why are Tamarac taxpayers involved with Jonathan Bleiweiss and his Florida Justice Center? Doesn’t anyone at City Hall have Google? A simple search would reveal how other legal professionals, like Howard Finklestein, question the legitimacy of the FLJC.
Did Elberg Mike Gelin select FLJC to operate this workshop? The Broward Clerk of Courts Office, the Broward State Attorney’s Office and the Broward Public Defenders Office regularly host expungement workshops. Why not use real professionals?
Does Elberg Mike Gelin even care about the safety of Tamarac residents?